Every June, a swath of downtown Wichita bordering the Arkansas River transforms into sprawling festival grounds where hundreds of thousands of people take river tours, attend concerts, play games, and eat festival food. Riverfest, a project of Wichita Festivals, Inc., is the largest party in town, and in south-central Kansas, anticipation of the annual event runs high.
In 2016, I took on the last-minute project of creating Riverfest’s first social media countdown. I agreed to tackle this project after 5 p.m., ten days before the start of the festival, so the countdown was an exercise in quick thinking and scaling down ideas so I could complete each post in time (and still do my day job). The countdown would doubtlessly look different if I had more time to conceptualize and plot it out, and in retrospect I wish I could re-shoot a couple of the numbers. But sometimes crazy deadlines force you to make a little magic.
The 2016 cloisonne pin against a background of puff paint and denim start off the countdown on Day Ten.
Day Nine: A VIP concert pass forms the number on my driveway with a sidewalk chalk design.
For Day Eight, I used a paper punch, stickers featuring the 2016 adult and children’s button design, the 2016 Festival Guide, and the insides of security envelopes. The faces in the middle of the eight are Admiral Windwagon Smith, the Prairie Schooners, and the 2016 Riverfest Artist in Residence, Rachel Hayes.
Another Wichita institution, The Nifty Nuthouse, provided materials for Day Seven. The tootsie rolls are customized with Riverfest stickers.
Day Six features macaroni art in the shape of the Wichita flag, which provided the inspiration for the 2016 Riverfest poster art.
Day Five references Blacktop Nationals, the classic car show that takes place at Century II during the festival. Bits and pieces of the 2016 Festival Guide decorate matchbox cars in the shape of the number five.
Maybe it’s my weakness for Pronto Pups, but Day Four of the countdown is my personal favorite. Corndogs make the number four on a classic picnic tablecloth backdrop borderedd by straws and mustard dots (with 2016 buttons at each corner).
2016 festival T-shirts form the number three against a striped posterboard-and-ribbon background.
I used actual Riverfest Food Court tickets for Day Two, arranged on a paper plate against a basket-woven ticket “placemat.”
I tried all sorts of complicated setups for Day One before posing these vintage Riverfest buttons on simple circles against a polka-dotted number.