The Wichita River Festival originated from a birthday party.
In 1970, Wichita celebrated it's centennial and city leaders held a year-long celebration. The last day of the "birthday party" was called the Wichitennial Water Festival.
The celebration was such a hit, organizers decided to establish an annual celebration over the next few years.
The first "Wichitennial River Festival" was held in 1972. In 1974, it was expanded from one day to 10 days. In 1979, the name was changed to the Wichita River Festival.