If you're planning a visit to Wichita, there are some things you should know. We have some issues... quirks, if you will. As Wichitans, we embrace them, as a guest, these things may confuse or frighten you. Don't worry though, we love visitors, and this will all make sense in the end.
It's Pronounced Ar-Kansas
We're not proud of this... though maybe we should be proud and it's the other 49 states who should feel shame?
Here's the deal. Arkansas, the state, is pronounced ARE-kan-saw. Arkansas the river, is Ar-Kansas.
Accept it, we'll never let it go. Even if 360 people from ARE-kan-saw floated down the Ar-Kansas river right in the middle of downtown Wichita, on a giant rubber duck, wearing ARE-kan-saw Razorback football helmets and Bill Clinton masks, holding burning dictionaries, waving the Wichita flag, shouting "peaceful death to the silly Ar-Kansas colloquialism", it's not happening. Okay, maybe if they bring beer and ice cream. ARE-kan-saw, ball's in your court on this one.
We're Bad Drivers
Wichitans often comment about how bad we are at driving. It's not so much that we're "bad", we're really just rude. We're like the jerky uncle that plays the 'got your nose game' until your four-year-old niece is in tears because she's terrified about going through life noseless. Give the kid back her nose uncle Dave!
Here's what you need to know about driving in Wichita:
- Letting someone pass is unthinkable, we won't allow it. We'll just go faster and faster until you no longer question your car's ability to take flight.
- Turn signals are only used at completely the wrong time. For example, three seconds after you have braked suddenly. Or when you are on a long, straight stretch of road with no possibility of turning.
- Merging... much like passing, forget about it. For some reason we do our best to keep anyone else from getting on the highway. If you need to merge, your best bet is a high speed Dukes of Hazzard style jump.
BTW, got your nose.
Our Seasons are Totally Busted
You've probably heard Kansas gets all of the extremes when it comes to weather. That's true. Oddly, the extremes can happen at literally any time. They do not follow any calendar.
A blizzard in April. Thunderstorms in December. A day that starts at 83 degrees and ends at 31 degrees. All of those things happen. It's not even that weird to us. Most "seasons" we experience eight or nine times every year. The only season you can truly count on is food truck season, and it luckily lasts seven straight glorious months. Om nom nom.
We're Still Quite Bitter About Wild West World
What is Wild West World? We'll get to that. First you should know, we don't have an amusement park. We had Joyland for decades, and it was great. Creepy, but great. When that closed down in the early 2000s we had no more amusement. None.
So this guy comes along and decides to build Wild West World, a fancy new amusement park. We heard about it for more than a year before it was built. Finally it opened, and it sucked. It sucked a lot. This is no joke, Wild West World was open from May 5, 2007 to July 9, 2007. The guy who built it went to jail on securities fraud related the park.
But wait, it gets worse. There's a company in Wichita called Chance Rides, and they build amusement park rides. But get this, we don't get to ride them! It's a very frustrating situation.
Tornadoes Are Common, But...
This applies to all of Kansas, but many people visiting the area assume tornadoes happen all the time, and that every Wichitan grew up watching them from the dusty wooden porch at their auntie's house.
They are somewhat common during storm season, but if you ask 20 people, odds are no more than one will say they've seen one in person. They're big and dangerous and scary though, so we're quite fine with that.
Tornadoes and earthquakes? Yep. Kansas has earthquakes all the time now. Usually they're small enough you aren't sure if it was a quake, or a garbage truck pulled up, but they happen.
A 4.5 would be on the big side in the Wichita area. But that's enough to make you wonder if that garbage truck drove right on to your front porch. One day we'll have both on the same day and the term Tornadoquake will be born.
We're Super Friendly
We will smile and say hello to total strangers. We will hold the door for you. We will help you with that heavy box. We will ask you how you're doing, and we're genuinely interested.
If you're from the East Coast and you're accustom to throwing more elbows and side-eyes, than handshakes and high-fives, leave that attitude at the state line. If you don't... well, we'll still be super nice to you. It'll just be a little awkward with the elbows and all.
We Have an Unhelathy Obsession With QuikTrip
If you don't know what a QT is, take a moment to familiarize yourself - Why Wichita Loves QuikTrip
Ah, now you get it. Snacks, slushies, and the things that make life worth livin'. There are seriously about 40 QTs in the area, and Wichitans just cant get enough of them. If you ever need directions to a QuikTrip, just head down the street to the nearest QuikTrip and they’d be happy to help.
The Planes, The Planes
We are the Air Capital of the World. There are planes in the air (sometimes lower than you might expect) all the time. Wichita is home to about 10 public airports and many private airports. We have so many, in fact, that one time a Boeing 747 Dreamlifter mistook the much smaller Jabara Airport for McConnell Air Force Base. It landed, and no one was sure if the runway was big enough for it to take off again.
While the city scrambled to make memes for their Facebook page, they did some math and figured out a way to take off.
There's Nothing to do Here
We have this thing where we say, "There's nothing to do here". Don't listen to us, there's tons of fun things to do.
We have a great live music scene, a growing art community who hosts a Final Friday art crawl every month, there's more than one top-notch museum, we have one of the best zoos in the country, we're home to the Tallgrass Film Festival, there are tons of great restaurants, etc. etc. etc.
Now that you know a little about us, we do hope you'll visit. ARE-kan-saw, we'll be waiting.