WICHITA, Kan.— Culture, events, entertainment, history and all-American hospitality are waiting for you in Wichita. Those that enjoy festivals, cultural exploration and ethnic celebrations can experience the city’s culture and history at a number of festivals and multicultural experiences that celebrate the city’s diverse heritage.
“In Wichita, culture is all around us,” said Susie Santo, president and CEO of Visit Wichita. “We have 33 museums, 28 art galleries, 22 live theaters, a symphony, and an opera and music theater that rival any major city in the United States. That’s in addition to the many festivals that highlight the diversity of our community,” she said.
All year round, visitors can take in the iconic 44-foot-tall Keeper of the Plains statue that pays tribute to the Native Americans who lived here long before settlers arrived. The Corten steel sculpture stands at the point where the Big and Little Arkansas Rivers join together in downtown Wichita. A complete renovation of the sculpture and installation of the Keeper of the Plains Plaza now brings people out each evening to see the Keeper and the "Ring of Fire," which can be viewed nightly at 9 p.m. for 15 minutes (hours vary seasonally).
The land between the two rivers is sacred ground to the Native American people and is also home to the Mid-America All-Indian Center, which educates and preserves the heritage of the American Indian and also houses a museum, a gallery of nations and a gift shop. See traditional American Indian artifacts and contemporary artwork, shop for authentic clothing, jewelry, gifts and learn about Blackbear Bosin, the legendary artist who designed the Keeper of the Plains and made many other invaluable contributions to Wichita’s history.
The Kansas African American Museum tells the story of the local African-American experience in Wichita and the people who helped shape the city. It’s a regional arts and cultural museum dedicated to the education, identification, acquisition, research, collection, exhibition, presentation and preservation of art reflective of African American life and culture. “UNDEFEATED: The Triumph of the Black Kansas Athlete,” featuring Kansas greats like Lynette Woddard, Barry Sanders, Linwood Sexton, Marian Washington and more, will be on display through Oct. 15.
Also in September, Hispanic Heritage Month will feature “Sharing Cultures: Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month” at Wichita’s Exploration Place, Kansas’ premier science center. Attendees can immerse themselves in Hispanic culture and heritage and enjoy crafts, games, food, music and dance from the countries of Colombia, El Salvador, Mexico, Nicargua, Peru, Puerto Rico and Venezuela. The event will take place from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 25, at Exploration Place. On Jan. 28, 2017, the traveling exhibit, “Celebrating the Tet Festival,” will open at Exploration place, highlighting the beauty, sights and sounds of Vietnam through its annual Tet celebration.
International opera season debuts in Wichita in the fall and includes four fully-staged operas with stars from around the globe. Verdi’s Rigoletto is Sept. 3 and Puccini’s La Boheme is Oct. 1 at the Wichita Grand Opera, one of the only opera houses in the region. Opera education programs for adults, children and students are also offered.
Wichita’s annual Asian Festival shows the community the rich culture, traditional outfits, performances and food representative of a variety of Asian countries. It’s is the only time and place in Wichita you can taste authentic food from as many as 15 Asian countries under one roof. The 36th annual festival will take place on Saturday, Oct. 29.
The long-running event also features:
- As many as 14 performances on stage highlighting Asian culture
- The Miss Wichita Asian Festival, which represents 11 Asian countries
- Nearly 50 vendor booths to shop for Asian food and a variety of arts items
- Kids Corner, which includes a variety of Asian children’s activities