RiverFest preps for severe weather

WICHITA, Kansas – A blazing sun temporarily beamed down on River Fest on Sunday, as concert goers pick the perfect spot for a night of rock with Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.

“I love rock in roll, put another dime in the juke box baby,” sang Todd Schuetzer.

Umbrellas were spotted across the Kennedy Plaza to block the heat that is until the severe weather warning ended.

“We’re watching it carefully throughout the afternoon, said Mary Beth Jarvis with River Fest.

Jarvis say they spent most of the day consulting with local meteorologist as storms move east towards Wichita. By 6 p.m., the hot air balloons were cancelled and the concert bumped up an hour earlier.

“We reserved the convention hall as a backup for those concerts,” said Jarvis. “But you gotta make the call when you’re setting up sound equipment and the band.”

The goal is to prevent a repeat of what happened in 2011, when close to 5,000 River Fest goers were packed into the basement of Century II when severe weather suddenly hit downtown Wichita. Carmen Carrell remembered that day all too well.

“It was very scary,” said Carrell. “Everybody was panicking, a lot of panicking.”

Carrell says despite all of the warnings, she planned to stay and enjoy the show.

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