Live events, entertainment returning to Wichita

Published: Apr. 22, 2021 at 5:26 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - Live and events and entertainment are returning to Wichita this week with Professional Bull Riding (PBR) at INTRUST Bank Arena, the Wichita Women’s Fair at Century II and more theaters opening their doors. It all starts Friday, April 23.

With the ongoing pandemic, each will have safety-related changes. Fans at INTRUST Bank Arena can expect the top-flight professional bull riding they’re used to watching on the floor, but there will be changes while they’re in the stands. Although more people will be allowed in the arena, continued COVID-19 safety precautions include distanced seating and a mask requirement.

PBR brings the first touring event event to INTRUST Bank Arena in 13 months, laying out dirt for the action kicking off Friday and continuing Saturday.

“Fans are ready to get back to live sports and live events,” said PBR Pendleton Whiskey Velocity Tour General Manager Robert Simpson.

Riders like Jake Gardner, from Canada, are also ready to get back to competing and entertaining.

“To have events in a city with fans is exciting, so I’m excited to get to Wichita for sure,” he said.

To make sure staff and riders from around the world don’t bring COVID-19 into the community, PBR requires them to get a negative COVID-19 test before they travel. Once in Wichita, the riders won’t have any contact with fans.

“We stay in our bubble, so there’s no crossover from anyone with our team to anybody locally,” Gardner said.

In addition to wearing masks inside INTRUST Bank Arena, PBR fans will sit in pods spaced six feet apart.

“That helps maintain that physical and social distance,” said INTRUST Bank Arena Director of Booking and Marketing Christine Pileckas. “Once you’re in your seat, you’re kind of in you own little bubble. So until we’re 100 percent, we’ll be operating on this pod model to host events.”

With the Wichita Women’s Fair at Century II this weekend, the event bringing shoppers “from all over” is an encouragement for businesses who’ve struggled through the pandemic.

“It’s been a long year. A lot of exhibitors haven’t worked because of shutdowns,” said Sari Schrepferman with the Women’s Fair.

In west Wichita on Friday, Regal’s Warren and IMAX Theater will open for the first time since October. Like with the Women’s Fair and PBR tour, masks will be required.

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