When I heard that “Button Up. Have a Blast!” was the theme for Wichita's Riverfest 2015, my mind first went to spaceships and rocket launches. Careful about where that was going, I decided to reel myself back in, and started thinking about things directly tied to the festival experience–things like fireworks blasting off and bursting in the air, a spectacle that has traditionally opened and closed the event.
At the same time, I wondered, how does the “Button Up” figure into this? It struck me that someone in a jetpack could be pushing a "button" to blast off. Taken a step further, I figured something resembling the actual festival buttons could buckle them into the jetpack. And with all that aside, a festivalgoer blasting off in a jetpack still seemed like it would be a good analogy for the sort of fun people would have at the event. In addition to addressing the theme and spirit of Riverfest 2015, I thought this concept involving flight would also be a nice tip of the hat to Wichita's Aviation Industry and McConnell Air Force Base, which have strong cultural ties and history with Wichita on the whole.
But it still didn't seem like enough of a tie-in to Wichita's River Festival, and with a bit more thinking, it seemed like the obvious answer was for the festival's ambassador, the Admiral Windwagon Smith, to don flight suit and helmet, and blast off in this jetpack. With this decision, the flight suit and helmet were styled to resemble the Admiral's traditional red, black and silver garb, minus the old filigree elements. I then added the river below, depicting it in a way that might call to mind an aircraft runway. To really anchor this imagery to the city, Wichita's iconic skyline was included on the horizon. Fireworks, a festival tradition, frame the scene and fill the night sky. A festive "man in the moon" looks upon everything with approval.
And for the kids, as if the Admiral in a jetpack wasn't cool enough, I brought “Ace the Turtle” into the picture. I don't think I know a kid that doesn't like turtles, and it was one river animal that had yet to be included in any of the Riverfest's past artwork. So Pronto Pups in hand, Ace is trailing the Admiral on fun adventures, just like kids and their parents would experience at Riverfest 2015. In addition to the appeal a Child's button featuring a water turtle would have, the choice to add this character fulfilled another requirement–a distinctly different design is required for the Children's buttons, so volunteer festival staffers can easily discern them from the higher priced Adult's buttons, as crowds of button-wearing festivalgoers enter the gates.