Disclosure: City of Andover sponsored this post. However, all opinions and photographs are my own.
Greater Andover Days are the ultimate weekend experience for festival fans of all ages. Since 1967, the annual 4-day event has brought the community together to enjoy outdoor activities. Whether you’re a resident of Andover or just passing through town, the festival is worth a visit thanks to a long itinerary of entertaining things to do – the fun never ends! A $5 button ($3 if you purchase it early) gains you access to all the festivities.
I took advantage of a sunny weather day to visit most of the Saturday events. The impressive lineup of things to do kicked off with the parade on Andover Road. Parents and kids lined both sides of the street ready to grab flying candy thrown from floats passing by. The energy was high as Boy Scouts kicked off the parade leading a trail of local school groups, Shriners, and trucks advertising local businesses toward Central Avenue. “Candy! candy!” yelled the kids with arms raised as they begged for sweet treats. It seemed the entire community showed up for the parade to applaud and wave in the spirit of Greater Andover Days.
As soon as the parade came to an end, families gathered their belongings and headed to Andover Central Park (1607 E. Central Ave.). Parking wasn’t an issue since there were plenty of spaces available at nearby Andover Central Middle School. A free shuttle took people to and from the festival, but I walked since it was a short distance.
The 80-acre park is a beautifully maintained area that plays host to various stations of entertainment from KidsFest to live music productions at Capitol Federal Amphitheater. To enter, each festival attendee wore their official button and walked directly into the festival where a half-dozen vendors waited to serve everything from flavored popcorn to barbecue at the food court.
Car enthusiasts gathered at the Wheat State Falcon Club Car Show to “ooh and ahh” over classic and modern cars. Shined and detailed to perfection, old-school vehicles sat on display for onlookers to enjoy. Gearheads grabbed their phones to snap photos. Vehicle owners chatted about their love of all things cars. In my opinion, the shining star of the show Ford Falcon Squire Wagon. Its white-wall tires, candy red paint, and classic design caught my attention as well as that of passersby. What make and model do you hope to see on display at a car show?
The fun didn’t stop there! Parents shuttled their kids to the carnival where the rides like the ferris wheel and fast-moving Tilt-a-Whirl awaited. I think the best part of the carnival was witnessing adults taking their kids on rides for the first time. They sat close, buckled in and smiling ear-to-ear as they experienced carnivals rides as a family. “Are you scared?” one asked of his son while waiting in line. “Yes!” he exclaimed. They felt jitters, but they experienced joyful moments. It was fun to watch.
Festival Tip: For $25, you can purchase a wristband that lets you ride as many rides as you want during the carnival. While a button is required for entry to Greater Andover Days, the wristband provides hours of entertainment Friday-Saturday.
While the fishing clinic at Lake George and hot dog eating contest took place, I returned to the carnival to buy concessions food and check out the games. I asked the concessions stand worker, “Which should I buy…cotton candy or a snowcone?” Once I saw the massive bag of spun sugar, I opted for a cherry snowcone, a yummy choice.
The sound of arcade games and a ringing of the winner’s bell rang out only steps from the concessions stand. A lifelong fan of Skeeball, I had to check it out. With every toss, kids and their parents worked hard to win oversized stuffed animals.
More activity was bustling at the Business Expo/Craft Fair where artisans sold unique gifts and local store owners talked with festival-goers. In a nearby tent, kids excitedly picked out the design they wanted to have painted on their faces while parents introduced themselves to one another. Entrepreneurs talked business and chatted about local happenings.
Nearby, small groups of kids ran to the nearby bouncy houses, a highlight of Saturday’s KidFest. Children couldn’t kick off their shoes fast enough. Piles of sneakers sat outside the entrance of an inflatable castle as kids jumped and giggled inside. Long lines formed to climb the towering stairs to slide down slides where parents waiting poised with cameras.
The Greater Andover Days committee worked hard this year to continue some of the traditional events while adding new ones to the lineup. Another highlight of the day was watching the Wichita Children’s Theatre & Dance Center perform “School House Rock” on the City Hall Plaza. The young performers delivered a showstopping performance that entertained while educating kids. Afterward, kids jumped up to burn off energy at three family-friendly stations nearby: hay maze, water balloons, and pedal cars.I took a break from the activity to grab lunch at the food court where there were many choices for street food fare. I walked by a barbecue food truck and a grilled hamburger station but ultimately decided to order a “tacone” from The Twisted Kitchen food truck. It’s a taco in a fried flour cone stuffed with beer or chicken, cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes topped with salsa. If you’ve never tried one, I’d recommend it. Based in El Dorado, you can find their food truck at Wichita area events next spring through fall.
I knew just the place to sit down and enjoy my meal. The beer garden. Set up on Central Park Lodge’s patio within viewing distance of the concert stage, it was the ideal setting to people watch and listen to the band’s perform soundcheck. Speaking of bands, Greater Andover Days is known for hosting two bands on the Saturday night of the festival at Capitol Federal Amphitheater. On this night, Texas Hill and Chronic Audio entertained the crowd seated in foldable chairs on the lawn.The excitement of the day was topped off by a spectacular firework show that lit up the night sky over Andover Central Park. Onlookers craned their necks to admire the colorful splendor. If you’ve never experienced Greater Andover Days, I’d recommend buying a button for each member of your family and taking advantage of the extended weekend of entertainment. A short drive from Wichita, it delivers a good time.