Category Archives: Festival food

Wichita Ribfest returns in May with changes

A scene from last year's Wichita Ribfest

A scene from last year’s Wichita Ribfest

Intrust Bank Arena announced today its dates for the third annual Wichita Ribfest, an event that features food from national rib vendors plus lots of live music and entertainment.

It’ll be May 16-18 in the same spot it’s been the last two years: City Lot D at 777 E. Waterman.

Arena officials have made two changes for this year’s Ribfest. For one, people can get into the festival all three days for $5. In previous years, people paid $4 each day they entered, but now they’ll be able to buy a $5 wristband and enter every day without paying again.

Also, the arena has changed the event to run Friday through Sunday rather than Thursday through Saturday, as it did the first two years. They hope to make Sunday, May 18, a big family day with lots of activities.

Arena officials said they will announce the entertainment lineup later. They’re offering free Saturday admission to anyone holding a ticket to the Brantley Gilbert concert, which is that night, and on Sunday, members of the military get in free.

You can keep up with Ribfest developments on the event’s Facebook page.

Midwest Beerfest is this weekend

The only thing I like better than the Midwest Beerfest is the Midwest Winefest, but that’s not until April. So this is just going to have to do.

The annual beerfest, put on by local chapter of the American Institute of Wine and Food, starts on Friday with a series of wine dinners. But the main event is the Grand Tasting, which is from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday. It’s in Century II’s giant Expo Hall and will offer samples of 350 beers, ciders, hard lemonades and more.

The Midwest Wingfest, a chicken wing contest between local restaurants, also will be a part of the event. The Anchor will be there, defending its title from last year. Usually, I’m a judge, but this year, I’m out of town. Word on the street is that Miss Kansas Theresa Vail will be on the panel instead. Attendees can sample all the wings for $5.

For all the info on the Beerfest, check out my story, which is coming out in the Go! section on Friday but is online right now.

Let the State Fair food freakiness commence

The Kansas State Fair opens tomorrow, and as always, it will be serving up mountains of ridiculous yet fabulous food concoctions that none of us should eat.

Should we?

Eh. We probably should. If for no other reason than that its darn near impossible to find deep fried birthday cake any other time of year.

My story for Friday’s Go! section — which is already online — outlines all the weird new food items that vendors have dreamed up this year. My favorite comes from a new Hutchinson food truck that’s airbrushed with “Wizard of Oz” characters. It’s called There’s No Taste Like Home, and during the fair, it will be serving “picnic on a stick” — a skewer stabbed hunks of chicken, potato and pickle, dipped in onion ring batter and deep fried. Yum. When the fair ends, the food truck will return to the street of Hutcinson, where it serves comfort food with a twist. (Chicken and waffles served in a waffle cone, for example.) People can find the food truck post-fair by checking out its Facebook page.

Other vendors are selling equally wild items, such as grilled lemonade, deep fried birthday cake, deep fried Jalapeno Twinkies, bologna bacon pies and more.

Fairgoers can find a directory of who’s serving what the the fair this year on the fair’s website. It’s divided by category of food, and this year organizers have smartly added categories for both bacon and deep fried foods.

Watch the Eagle starting on Saturday for my daily reviews of this year’s fair foods offerings.

River Festival makes national food magazine

Funnel cake fryers: Be on alert.

My friend Liz recently made me aware that a national publication had recognized the Wichita River Festival’s funnel cake-eating contest, a disturbingly fascinating festival attraction that’s scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday on the main food court stage.

Food Network Magazine’s June 2013 issue includes an article about eating competitions going on across the country this summer. The article recognizes face-stuffing-fests such as the brat eating contest in Sheboygan, Wisc.;  a mashed potato eating contest in Barnesville, Minn.; and a lobster-eating competition in Portland, Maine. (That one I’d consider.)

James Bradley Price II, the very first winner of the very first Wichita River Festival funnel cake eating contest, back in 2009

The funnel cake eating contest, a River Festival tradition since 2009, is hard to watch and even harder to win. The winner has consumed the most funnel cakes in a 10-minute period. I watched once, and that was enough. On the inaugural year, winner James Bradley Price II managed to consume only three and a half of the deep-fried delicacies.

Wanna participate? You can sign up at the festival at the KGSO booth from 5 to 7 p.m. today (Monday) and from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday.

For more information, call the festival at 316-267-2817.

Riverfest food court smoke-free — and other changes

The food court is back on Century II drive.

The Wichita River Festival opens a week from today, and there are some headlines from the food court I thought I should share.

For one, the food court is moving back “where God intended it,” joked the festival director, Mary Beth Jarvis. After two years of setting up in experimental spots, the main food court will return to Century II Drive.

This is a headline, in my opinion.  This year, for the first time, all food court areas will be smok-free. The Cox Kids Corner also will be a smoke-free area.

Also, NuWay — which left the festival in 2009 — is back this year, and the festival has also attracted another local restaurant. Larry Bud’s will serve bacon-wrapped chicken tenders, hot links and more.

You can read a story outlining all the food court changes in the May 31 Go!, which will be dedicated to tall things River Festival.

Cajun Food Fest returns to River Festival

The Cajun Food Fest will return to this year’s Wichita River Festival.

The Cajun Food Fest, a popular Wichita River Festival event that was absent last year, will return this year accompanied by a big-name band.

The food fest, which traditionally has featured jambalaya, red beans and rice and more, is scheduled for June 6 on Kennedy Plaza. Nationally known band Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, which has performed at halftime of the Super Bowl and on ESPN’s ESPY Award Show, will perform.

The Cajun Food Fest had been a 26-year tradition at the River Festival. But in 2012, the festival reorganized the layout, putting the main food court on Douglas, just in front of Kennedy Plaza. Goodwill Industries, which put on the Cajun Food Fest as a fundraiser, was told the event would have to move.

Goodwill officials didn’t think that would work, so they decided to stage the food fest on their own separate from the River Festival. That never worked out.

The main food court is moving back to its longtime home on Century II drive this year, said Mary Beth Jarvis, the new president and CEO of the festival. Kennedy Plaza will be a main staging area, and the Cajun Food Fest will move back to its original home.

The Cajun Food Fest was one of the events people told Jarvis they wanted back, she said.

“One of the first things I did in the initial weeks of being here was read through comments made at public meetings and post Riverfest debriefings,” she said. “This was clearly an event we wanted to find a way to make happen again.”

The Wichita River Festival is scheduled for May 31 through June 8.

Festival buttons go on sale May 10 at local AAA, Dillons and QuikTrip stores. This year, the festival plans to sell 25,000 $3 children’s buttons in addition to the usual $5 adult buttons.

For more information, visit

Wackiest fair food yet: THE BACON NIZER

When I wrote my story about crazy Kansas State Fair foods this week, the craziest was missing.

When Susie Bernard submitted her menu to the fair, she didn’t include her Bacon Nizers, mainly because she was still perfecting the recipe.

Susie, who runs the Kathy-B’s BBQ and Bacon booth on Ft. Riley Blvd., has four kinds of Bacon Nizers.

One features a banana stuffed with fruit, cheese and other secret ingredients that’s completely wrapped in bacon and flash fried. Customers also can get Mexican, Philly steak or cheeseburger Bacon Nizers. These are made of tortillas stuffed with the appropriate ingredients, wrapped in bacon and flash fried. All come with a selection of sauces, ranging from cheese to chocolate to salsa.

Bernard said she wanted to up the ante on food wildness this year. “When you bite into the Bacon Nizer, you get all the ingredients plus the taste of bacon,” she said.

The booth is named in honor of Bernard’s sister, Kathy, also her longtime business partner, who is fighting cancer in Wichita.

Bacon Nizers are $6. The booth is bright green and three doors north of the KWCH booth.

From the restaurant that brought you the Chocolate Wonderfall!!!


I can’t decide if this is wacko or wonderfall wonderful. Golden Corral has added cotton candy to its buffet, and it will stay there all summer.

Anyone brave enough to admit you’ve tried it?

Wichita’s Golden Corrals are at 616 S. Ridge Road Circle and 11006 E. Kellogg.

Last chance: Riverfest foodcourt fare

The two-pound Mega Monster Burger at Monster Grill. Photo by Andrew Gough.

After Saturday, that’s it. No more River Festival fare until NEXT JUNE!

This week, members of the Wichita Eagle Dining Panel and Intern Matt have been reviewing some of the delicacies offered at the main food court, set up in the middle of Douglas between Waco and Water.

So far, we’ve reviewed the two-pound Mega Monster Burger, Pork Tuscany on Pita, and a lamb gyro.

Below, you will find more reviews that might help you decide where to dine on the festival’s final days.

For the record, my two favorite items at the food court are the fried pickles from Hoopingarner’s Philly Steak and the Original Corn Roast corn, slathered in butter and sprinkled with salt.

A few more reviews:

Read More »

A guide to River Festival food

There are so many things I love about this picture, I just don't know where to start.

In case you’ve misplaced your Wichita River Festival guide, I’ve got all the info you need about the food right here.

As you may have heard, the main food court has moved to a new location — on Douglas, right in front of Century II.

There’s one new vendor (Monster Grill, home of the 2 lb. burger) and one tragically missing vendor (the fabulous Tad’s Bodacious Burritos, which opted not to return. Big boo.) Here’s a full list of vendors and what they’re serving.

The festival is offering lunch specials, food at the WaterWalk Pavilion, adult beverages and more. Following is a list of the daily lunch specials that I promised I’d post on my blog.

If anyone eats anything interesting, please let me know here.


Tad’s Chicken on a Stick: 
Shrimp on a stick, $5
Chan’s Concessions: Shrimp fried rice and one egg roll, $7
Hoopingarner’s Funnel Cakes: $1 off funnel cakes
Pronto Pup: Cheese on a stick, $4

Chan’s Concessions: Shrimp fried rice and one egg roll, $7
Hoopingarner’s Funnel Cake: $1 off funnel cake
Original Corn Roast: Two roasted corns, $7
Pronto Pup: Cheese on a stick, $4

Pizza Hut: $1 off pizzas
Texas Red’s: $1 off prime rib sandwich
Dippin’ Dots: $1 off root beer and orange floats
Pronto Pup: Cheese on a stick, $4

Monster Grill: Two kababs (beef or chicken), $14
Mario’s: $1 off any menu item
Made 2 Grill: Free twister fries with meat purchase
Pronto Pup: Cheese on a stick, $4
Texas Red’s: $1 off turkey leg