Home » Blog » Wichita Asian Festival — a Foodie’s Paradise — Returns to Century Ii This Weekend
Asia Featured Food & Drinks Global News News

Wichita Asian Festival — a Foodie’s Paradise — Returns to Century Ii This Weekend

It’s Halloweekend, and although several spooky activities are still happening, the weekend in Wichita will also include the annual Wichita Asian Festival as well as the 2023 Air Capital Comic Con and even a non-sanctioned Taylor Swift party.

Wichita Asian Festival

The big Wichita Asian Festival — an annual October event that always draws big crowds in for Asian food and cultural performances — returns this weekend to Century II. The festival, now in its 42nd year, will be from 5 to 10 p.m. on Saturday and as always will include dozens of food vendors, including restaurants, organizations and individuals, as well as craft vendors. Attendees also can watch the annual Miss Wichita Asian Festival scholarship pageant. Admission for ages 6 and older will be $7 in advance at www.selectaseat.com or $10 at the door the day of the festival. People who want to get into the event an hour early can get a $25 ticket at selectaseat.com

Air Capital Comic Con

Air Capital Comic Con, an annual Wichita convention dedicated to “comic book culture and all things geek,” is back this weekend but will have a new home: The Wichita Sports Forum. The event will include comic book vendors, clothing vendors and handmade items, and comic book writers and artists, authors and cosplayers will be featured. The convention is from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets can be purchased in advance at www.aircapcomiccon.com or at the door.

The Taylor Party

Fans of Taylor Swift (ages 18 and over) can celebrate the superstar singer at an event called “The Taylor Party” that, although not put on by or sponsored by Swift, is intended as a celebration of her music and talent. The event is on Friday at Temple Live and is described as an “immersive, interactive” experience that will have fans dancing and singing along. Doors open at 8 p.m., and the event starts at 9 p.m. Tickets are $18 at wichita.templelive.com

Monster Mash at Wave

Wichita music venue Wave is partnering with Wichita Pride for its second annual Monster Mash all-ages Halloween party and concert on Friday. Admission is free to the event, which will last from 7 p.m. to midnight and will include 20 local artists and vendors, Halloween games, a drag show by local performers Effi Darling and LeStar Yamaya, and music by Yae, The Cavves and Hunter Gromala & the Disorders.

Michael Jackson Tribute

The Cotillion will be the site on Saturday of a Michael Jackson Tribute Concert starring impersonator Danny Dash Andrews. The show, which starts at 8 p.m. and is sponsored by radio station KEYN, is two hours long and will feature music that spans Jackson’s four-decade career. It’s open to all ages. Tickets are $20 for general admission, and there’s also a $50 VIP ticket option. They’re available at thecotillion.com

Toy Train Show

Toy train enthusiasts will be able to buy, sell and trade trains at more than 100 tables and also check out several different operating train sets at this weekend’s 29th Annual Wichita Train Show. It lasts from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday at Cessna Activity Center. Admission is $8 or free for 13 and under with a paid adult. The show is put on by the Wichita Toy Train Club. For more information, visit www.wichitatoytrainmuseum.org

October 28, 2023 at 8:26 PM

Fierce Wichita advocate Ben Hutton said it’s “just a grand idea” right now, but the Wichita Art Museum is exploring a possible move to the former downtown Wichita library at his suggestion.

“Just personally, I love to dream about the future of this city and how we can make it amazing,” Hutton said.

WAM director Anne Kraybill noted that “this is super exploratory at this point.”

She said there are problems with the museum’s current building just off the Arkansas River near Botanica and the Old Cowtown Museum.

The Wichita Art Museum at its current location at 1400 Museum Blvd.

Kraybill said she realized that just a few weeks after she started her new job in August 2022. She was preparing for a site review with a national accreditation organization, which caused her to scrutinize the building, and she said she saw myriad issues.

“I wasn’t shy about talking to people about the concerns I had with the building.”

Hutton, who owns the Hutton construction company in Delano, was one of those people. He said he immediately saw an opportunity to help WAM and “a really important building in our city.”

The 1967 former library at 223 S. Main St. hasn’t had a permanent occupant since the Advanced Learning Library opened near Second and McLean in 2018.

During the pandemic, it became a site for vaccinations, and that’s when a lot of people had a chance to truly consider the building for the first time when it wasn’t laden with books.

“It just made me think about it in a whole new way,” said WAM board chairman Lou Heldman. He called the building “a real community asset that we ought to hold onto.”

When Heldman heard Hutton’s idea for WAM to move there, he said, “I thought it was amazing.”

Hutton called the space an award-winning “fantastic representation of Brutalist architecture.”

“And it sits at the gateway to our downtown.”

Ben Hutton, who thinks the former downtown library could be a great new home for the Wichita Art Museum, called the space an award-winning “fantastic representation of Brutalist architecture.”

As people come off of Kellogg onto Main Street, he said “that’s what they’re greeted by.”

Earlier this year, the city took requests for proposals for a short-term — likely three to five years — adaptive reuse of the library.

Those RFPs still are under consideration.

WAM did not submit a proposal. What Kraybill is proposing would be a long-term idea.

City spokeswoman Megan Lovely said Kraybill has shared plans with the City Council and city manager, but the city hasn’t made any commitments — either for the former library space or any kind of expansion project for the city-owned museum.

There’s a rendering that Hutton’s firm created of how the former library could transform through a $100 million endeavor, including an endowment for the building. He and Kraybill have been sharing it with community leaders and key WAM supporters.

They’re not sharing it publicly yet because Kraybill said it’s too early in the process, and they don’t want anyone to get hung up on particulars. It’s more about sharing the general idea.

With the new Wichita Biomedical Center campus coming downtown and future riverfront development and other momentum happening in the city’s core, Kraybill said Hutton’s idea made sense, and she decided why not see how WAM can be part of that?

“The stars kind of aligned really quickly, and I saw a potential way forward by connecting dots together.”

So what’s wrong?

Kraybill said she didn’t take her new job thinking she was immediately going to lead a major capital campaign or move the museum or even overhaul it.

“Did I come in thinking this is some ugly carpet? Yes.”

She pointed out that it’s 1977 carpet and lighting. That’s merely cosmetic, though. There are many more serious problems, Kraybill said.

To start, the core of the structure is the museum’s original 1935 Art Deco building, “so there’s just some old infrastructure.”

The Wichita Art Museum’s original 1935 Art Deco building was featured in magazines such as Art Digest and Architecture. The current museum was built around it.

The freight elevator doesn’t reach where the art is stored, she said, and Kraybill called the short ceilings on the first level of galleries subterranean and not ideal for showcasing art. Nor are the numerous triangular-shaped rooms of the building, she said.

“The other big concern is we’re surrounded by a water treatment plant.”

The potential issue is structurally compromised water tanks and storage reservoirs in the area.

Even when the new water plant opens, this one will remain as a backup, Kraybill said.

“We’re surrounded by water, and not in a friendly way,” Heldman said.

He said he didn’t learn about mold and “the dangers that the art faces” until he became board chairman in January.

“People didn’t realize some of the things that are not so visible,” Kraybill said.

Also, Heldman said, space is tight.

“We’ve got lots of things in storage that rarely or never come out that people would love to see.”

He said a downtown site likely would attract a lot more people, too.

The Wichita Art Museum sits on an 8-acre campus and has 31,500 square feet of galleries.
The Wichita Art Museum sits on an 8-acre campus and has 31,500 square feet of galleries.

Heldman said Museum Boulevard, the drive alongside WAM, may be named for WAM, Botanica, Cowtown, Mid-America All-Indian Museum and Exploration Place, “But the operative word is drive because you can’t in a practical way expect people to walk between those attractions.”

Though “the current building has served the museum and the community very well,” Heldman said it’s like owning a house that needs updating.

Hutton said it is “a great building, but it does have some challenges as a museum.”

‘Grand dreams’

There are some issues that would need corrected at the old library, too.

A pipe burst in the basement. There’s asbestos. There are some ADA and access concerns. WAM needs 150,000 square feet, and the building is only 90,000 square feet. It also sits on what Kraybill called a concrete jungle that would need to be softened with landscaping.

All of that is solvable, she said.

Kraybill said what it offers is built-in beauty, wide-open spaces, and “it sort of looks like it could be an art museum.”

During the pandemic, the former downtown library became a site for vaccinations, and that’s when a lot of people had a chance to truly consider the building for the first time when it wasn’t laden with books.

WAM is conducting a feasibility study and is using an external consultant to do one-on-one interviews with 40 museum supporters to gauge its capacity for fundraising. To support its case, the museum also created a study headlined: “A BOLD Vision for WAM.”

There have been only 15 initial interviews, but Kraybill said, “So far, there’s enthusiasm . . . for the idea.”

She said there have not been deep deliberations with the board yet, but there’s been excitement there as well, along with concerns from some members.

Heldman called it “a tremendous opportunity to think about what we could do in a central location that would be good not just for the museum but . . . for Wichita.”

He said he’s visited other cities, such as Minneapolis, Cincinnati and Grand Rapids, Mich., where museums are situated prominently in their downtowns.

“They are all fantastically placed both for visitors and for people who have other reasons to be downtown.”

Heldman said a missing piece in the city’s plans for redevelopment along the river is what to do with the former library space.

“It should be a key part of the plan,” he said. “It would be another gathering space in the center of downtown.”

Hutton said it could set the tone for what people can expect from the community.

Ben Hutton, who thinks the downtown library could be a great new home for the Wichita Art Museum, has this mural at his construction company office in Delano. “Just personally, I love to dream about the future of this city and how we can make it amazing,” he said.

He said he believes “that our city deserves excellent things, and catalytic projects are important for our downtown core.”

Also, Hutton said he loves that it’s putting visual arts at the center of the city.

“What’s imagined there is a way to reuse that space in a format that’s excellent and exciting and brings some new life to it in a modern way . . . while still respecting the architecture of the building and the historic nature of it.”

Is a dream this size actually possible, though, especially with so many other nonprofits and areas of the city needing money?

“It takes step by step . . . building of public acceptance,” Heldman said.

He points to other success stories, like the vision the late Wichita State University president John Bardo — for whom Heldman was a special advisor — had for the school’s Innovation Campus.

“And look at how far it’s come.”

Heldman called the Eisenhower National Airport a grand dream at one point. Same with the new Kansas City airport. Heldman also pointed to the transformation of downtown Oklahoma City that “happened step by step by step.”

Source : Aol