Fall is the busiest time of the year in Wichita when it comes to festivals. An unofficial kick-off to the fall festival season came in the form of a new event on Aug. 29: Grub and Groove Festival, which drew more than 1,000 to Jabara Airport for the 21-and-over food and music festival.
There's something for everyone among the variety of festivals returning to Wichita over the next couple of months. Here's a rundown of upcoming festivals:
Derby BBQ Festival
Sept. 12 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 BBQ Cookoff.
Don't worry if the kits are sold out; there's plenty more to do at the fifth 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 TenderCare Big Green Egg Backyard BBQ Cookoff, Fidelity Bank Anything Bacon Contest and a Chick-fil-A Kids Chocolate Chip Cookie Contest. A variety of barbecue and other fair food vendors will be on site to satisfy all your cravings. Other festivities include the Bumper to Bumper Rods-n-Ribs Charity Car Show, live music and free kids activities, from pig races to inflatables, balloon artists to face painters, magic shows, fishing demos and more.
Autumn & Art
Sept. 18-20 at Bradley Fair
A juried fine arts exhibit and sale featuring 100 artists from 21 states, Autumn & Art also offers art demonstrations, musicians and hands-on experiences for kids outdoors on the Bradley Fair Parkway.
You can purchase food provided by Bradley Fair restaurants at the Culinary Pavilion on Saturday and Sunday. Wine, beer and soft drinks are available at three cash bars along the parkway as you stroll and check out the artwork.
Last year about 18,000 attended Autumn & Art, which is free and open to the public. Some activities do have a fee - for example, paddle boats on Bradley Fair Lake are $5 per person.
The weekend starts with a patron party from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, then Autumn & Art show hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 19 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 20.
Wagonmasters Downtown Chili Cookoff
Sept. 26 downtown
Try more than 70 varieties of chili and salsa made by teams from Kansas and surrounding states for the price of a $5 tasting kit that can be purchased at the event. Public tasting starts at noon. The event has been a Wichita tradition for 31 years, and attendance has exploded since 2005 when the Wagonmasters took over the event and brought it back downtown. Organizers expect as many as 9,000 attendees this year near the intersection of Douglas and St. Francis.
Other activities include a pepper eating contest, awards for Mr. Hot Stuff & Ms. Chili Pepper and live music from local favorite Annie Up. This year's all important Wagonmasters Downtown Chili Cookoff potentate - or ambassador of good times - is Mayor Jeff Longwell.
Great Plains Renaissance Festival
Sept. 26-27 at Sedgwick County Park
The fall version of this biannual event brings out more performers, artisans, crafters and merchants from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Sedgwick County Park. The festival creates a medieval village complete with re-enactors who take visitors on a time trip to the days of chivalry. For each adult admission purchased online, you'll save $3.50 off regular gate ticket price and receive a free kid's ticket ($5 value).
Oct. 2-3 at Century II
Sponsored by Wichita's chapter of the American Institute of Wine and Food, the 15th annual Midwest Beerfest features craft beers, ales, lagers and more from your favorite breweries and microbreweries from around the world, and promises an outstanding selection of microbrews from Kansas.
The weekend starts on Friday with a choice of three Beer & Food Lovers Dinners: Breckenridge Brewery at Marriott Wichita, Boulevard Brewing Company at YaYa's Eurobistro and Odell Brewing Company at River City Brewing. Beer dinner tickets are purchased only by calling 316-682-5502.
On Saturday in Century II's EXPO Hall is the Grand Tasting event. A $40 ticket (purchased via www.WichitaTIX.com or by calling them at 316-303-8100) gets you a tasting mug, program guide and three hours (4-7 p.m.) of tasting. There are also non-beer drinks, an array of beer-friendly food, a chicken wing cookoff contest and a food truck round-up. Other activities include a brew-lover's silent auction and live music.
Tallgrass Film Festival
Oct. 14-18 at various locations
Now entering its 13th year, the largest independent film festival in the state of Kansas has become a hallmark of Wichita's cultural landscape - screening more than 200 films over five days in various centralized venues. Each year's selections include narratives, foreign films, documentaries, animated films and shorts, making for a very diverse experience. Expect more than 30 visiting filmmakers to present their films, along with parties and educational offerings.
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. Then about two weeks before the festival, the full schedule will be available in print and online.
Wichita Asian Festival
Oct. 24 at Century II
The Wichita Asian Festival, in its 35th year and regularly attracting 6,000 attendees, presents Asian performing and culinary arts. 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. Last year about 40 food booths were set up: the only time and place in Wichita you can taste authentic food from as many as 12 different Asian countries under one roof. The event is 5:30 to 10 p.m. in Century II's Convention Hall.