This fall Wichita has festivals focused on wings, barbecue and chili, and events that will let you try a variety of Asian cuisine or sample some of the top restaurants in the area. Food, culture, art, film, music – whatever you’re looking for, Wichita has a festival that will interest you. If you’re looking for a reason to get out and enjoy Wichita, consider attending one of these upcoming events.
Aug. 20 at INTRUST Bank Arena
Last year’s inaugural Wingapalooza, organized by SMG and INTRUST Bank Arena, sold out so the event is back for a second year. The one-of-a-kind event will again feature Wichita-area restaurants and chefs showcasing their best wing recipes and competing for the People's Choice Award and a Judge's Choice Award. Last year's winners include The Hungry Heart, The Anchor, Wings & Things and River City Brewing Company.
Wingapalooza takes place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the main arena floor, where guests enjoy all-you-can-eat wings from more than 20 booths. There’s also entertainment and music from a live DJ and you can purchase local craft beer in the beer garden.
Tickets are $25 and can be purchased online at selectaseat.com, by phone at 855-755-SEAT or in person at the Select-A-Seat Box Office at INTRUST Bank Arena. Ticket price increases $5 on the day of the event.
Grub & Groove Festival
Aug. 27 at Jabara Airport
The Grub & Groove Festival has quickly become Wichita’s largest urban festival and is expected to draw a regional crowd this year. For its second year, the 21-and-over food and music celebration has an even bigger lineup of ’70s and ’80s soul, funk and R&B: The Zapp Band, Rose Royce, S.O.S Band, The Gap Experience and Angela Winbush. Food trucks and booths will sell soul food, barbecue and a variety of other grub. Beer and mixed drinks also will be sold.
Gates open at 3 p.m. and the music starts at 5 p.m. Tickets are $75 for seating at tables in front of the stage and $45 for general admission, which requires you to bring your own lawn chair. All tickets will incur a $5 upcharge the day of the festival online and at the gate. Buy tickets online at grubandgroovefestival.com or at Wings and Things, TOPS Steaks and Hoagies Sandwiches or Great Plains Federal Credit Union.
Sept. 3-5 at El Vaquero Family and Friends Event Center
ICT FEST began in 2004 and has grown into a three-day music festival featuring more than 40 national, regional and local bands. The festival welcomes all ages and is affordable: $20 for a three-day pass or $12 per day. Organizers bring in bands from a diverse range – noise rock, pop, punk, hip-hop, electronic, and a lot in between – to expose the audience to a variety of styles.
ICT FEST has always been about music, the Wichita community and having as much fun as possible. It brings as many local musicians as possible together to share crowds, share ideas and have fun. The music festival also brings in regionally and nationally traveling acts that bring in new ideas and get to see what's going on in the city. You might even see a new band form on the spot!
The festival is from 5 p.m. to midnight at the El Vaquero Family and Friends Event Center, 1320 E. Central.
Sept. 10 at High Park in Derby
If you want to try the competition-quality pulled pork, get to the Derby BBQ Festival early. The $5 tasting kits go on sale at 10:30 a.m. and sell out early, often by 11 a.m. If you’re among the 1,500 who score a kit, you’ll have the chance to sample from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and vote on the professional competitors who participate in the People's Choice contest.
Don’t worry if the kits are sold out; there’s plenty more to do at the sixth annual festival, which runs from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. In addition to watching the competitive teams from across the region, there will be a backyard BBQ cookoff and a chocolate chip cookie contest for kid bakers.
A variety of barbecue and other fair food vendors will be on site to satisfy all your cravings. Enjoy the Bumper to Bumper Rods-n-Ribs Charity Car Show, a beverage and beer den, music and free kids activities, including inflatables, a petting zoo, balloon artists, face painters, magic shows, fishing demos and more.
The Derby BBQ Festival benefits the Airman & Family Readiness Center at McConnell Air Force Base.
Sept. 10 at Sedgwick County Zoo
What started as a small event for just a few dozen friends has grown into Wichita's wildest charitable party of the year. One of the most successful fundraisers of its kind, Zoobilee raises funds that help keep the Sedgwick County Zoo admission prices affordable. A portion of the funds raised at the event also go to support the zoo’s animal conservation initiatives in the wild.
A Zoobilee ticket gives you access to parts of the zoo that are open during the evening fundraiser, including the new Reed Family Elephants of the Zambezi River Valley exhibit. As you roam, feast on food and drink from about 50 of the region’s favorite restaurants, get pampered at one of the many pampering stations and bid on hundreds of silent auction items. A variety of bands play on multiple stages throughout the zoo until 8:15 p.m. An exciting live auction kicks off at 8:30 p.m. followed by the headlining concert at 9:30 p.m.: Nashville-based The Stacy Mitchhart Band.
Tickets go on sale Aug. 1 and will sell out. Early bird price is $135 per ticket and they increase to $150 starting Sept. 1. Visit the zoo’s website or call 316-266-8273 to order tickets by phone.
Sept. 16-18 at Bradley Fair
Autumn & Art at Bradley Fair is one of the region’s largest fine-art shows and sales, with 100 juried artists and nearly 20,000 attendees. The alfresco event is free and open to the public, taking place lakeside on beautiful Bradley Fair Parkway.
Fine artworks in a wide variety of media are available to view and purchase. Invited artists from across the United States set up booths along the Bradley Fair Parkway, the street separating the shopping area from the residential and office complex at Bradley Fair, Wichita’s premier outdoor shopping area. Autumn & Art is an opportunity to mingle with fellow art enthusiasts while shopping for that piece of art your family will treasure.
Art demonstrations and live entertainment are scheduled throughout the three-day event. Kids can create hands-on art projects directed by arts educators, enjoy a gallery for youth and play art-themed games.
Grab a bite to eat at one of the booths representing Bradley Fair’s outstanding restaurants. Partake of wine, beer or a soft drink from the cash bar as you stroll the parkway and enjoy the art, live music and other entertainment.
Autumn & Art’s hours are 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
Sept. 24 in downtown Wichita
No matter the weather – hot, mild or even cold – it's chili weather in Wichita every September. That’s when the Wagonmaster's Downtown Chili Cookoff brings 70 teams of chili makers to the streets of downtown Wichita, where they compete to be named the best chili in the city.
You can get in on the action with a $5 tasting kit that can be purchased at the event. Public tasting starts at noon and you’ll be able to sample more than 70 varieties of chili and salsa made by teams from Kansas and surrounding states. Competitors include cooks vying for a spot in the World Championship Chili Cookoff, groups of co-workers or friends cooking for fun, non-profits and restaurants. Chili categories include no beans, chili verde, red chili, home-style chili, anything goes and there’s also a salsa competition.
Get there early, as recent chili cookoffs have attracted between 9,000-12,000 attendees. The event has been a Wichita tradition for more than 32 years, and attendance has exploded since 2005 when the Wagonmasters took over the event and brought it back downtown.
The cookoff closes down Douglas between Topeka and the railroad tracks, along with some side streets. In addition to chili, visitors can enjoy other activities including live music, a beer garden, children’s activities, wacky contests and more.
Sept. 24-25 at Sedgwick County Park
If you’re looking for fun for the entire family, plan to attend this fall’s Great Plains Renaissance Festival at Sedgwick County Park. The festival runs 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. both days.
There'll be jousts and jests, knights and knaves, pirates and fairies. The Great Plains Renaissance Festival creates a medieval village with re-enactors who take visitors on a time trip to the days of chivalry. Performers, artisans, crafters and merchants display their talents and wares on the streets of the festival’s medieval fairground, vendors sell medieval food like turkey legs and visitors can participate in kids activities, cosplay contests and more.
An average visit to the festival lasts three to four hours, but you can easily spend the whole day here. Your festival ticket includes admission to the Wichita Highland Games, where you’ll learn about Scottish and Celtic history and culture and watch competitors do battle in events like the caber toss.
The most convenient and affordable way to purchase tickets is to buy online in advance: $8.50 for a one-day adult pass and you’ll receive a free kid’s ticket with each adult ticket purchase. Prices at the gate are $12 for adults and $5 for kids.
Oct. 12-16 in downtown Wichita
Showcasing independent films and up-and-coming filmmakers, this five-day, richly diverse independent film festival allows the public to interact with writers, directors, filmmakers and performers. Rated as a "Top 10 Film Festival" by Livability.com and "The Best Under The Radar Film Festival" by Flavorwire, Tallgrass Film Festival fosters an appreciation of the cinematic arts by creating shared experiences around the medium of film.
Now entering its 14th year, the largest independent film festival in the state of Kansas has become a hallmark of Wichita’s cultural landscape. Each year’s selections include narratives, foreign films, documentaries, animated films and shorts, making for a very diverse experience. Expect more than 40 visiting filmmakers to present their films, along with parties and educational offerings.
The festival screens more than 200 feature and short films at centralized venues in Wichita. Many of the films shown at Tallgrass have been nominated for or received Sundance or Independent Spirit Awards, and at least two films featured in Tallgrass have gone on to contend for Oscars.
Individual tickets can be purchased for any film or packages are available. At the end of September check the festival website for a list of the films that have been selected along with trailers. About two weeks before the festival, the full schedule will be available in print and online.
Oct. 29 at Century II Convention Hall
Volunteers of the Wichita Asian Association organize the annual Wichita Asian Festival to present the best of the Asian culture to the public. Attendees will enjoy art, traditional outfits, performances and food representing many Asian countries. More than 7,000 attendees are expected for the 36th annual festival.
From 5:30 to 10 p.m., you’ll see: nearly 50 vendor booths, as many as 14 stage performances, the Miss Wichita Asian Festival pageant and a kids corner with a variety of activities.
The Wichita Asian Festival is the only time and place in Wichita you can taste authentic food from as many as 15 Asian countries under one roof. The festival is free but bring cash for food and merchandise booths. A $5 program book supports the festival and offers coupons for the vendor area.