Windwagon Smith XLVI Revealed for Riverfest 2019
Ken Atnip was revealed as Admiral Windwagon Smith XLVI, ambassador of Riverfest 2019.
“Ken is a fitting and inspiring choice to represent his fellow Riverfest volunteers,” said Mary Beth Jarvis, president and CEO of Wichita Festivals. “He’s a tireless advocate for our world-class party, and this is just one more way for him to share his love for all who work to make our community better.”
Atnip began his career in law enforcement at 21, joining the Wichita Police Department. He served mostly in investigations, including 15 years fighting narcotics and working on SCAT, the department’s Special Community Action Team to deter drug- and gang-related crime. Captain Atnip commanded the Property Crimes Bureau prior to retiring after 33 years of dedicated service.
The admiral began volunteering on the Riverfest Operations Team, nicknamed the Red Shirts, in the early 2000’s. Initially involved in Riverfest via his WPD role, he “quickly realized the importance of the event and how the work of festival staff and volunteers improves the overall quality of life for those who work and raise their families here.”
He has contributed his skills and dedication to every facet of the festival, doing set-up and tear down, working with national brands and touring exhibits, keeping the festival warehouse in tip-top shape, providing experienced guidance around event security, and more. Atnip took on the role of General Chair for Riverfest 2013 and has been fundamental to the success of other Wichita Festivals events, including Autumn & Art, Vortex Music Festival and Bracket Bash, receiving the Galaxy Award, Wichita Festivals’ most prestigious volunteer award.
The tradition of Admiral Windwagon Smith was established in 1974, when John Bell first wore the red coat during the third Riverfest, then known as Wichitennial River Festival. Atnip is the 46 th admiral, and he was introduced at an event at the former central branch of the public library, against the backdrop of the Riverfest grounds.
Atnip has been a member of the Wichita Wagonmasters since 2009. He serves on the board of the Wichita Metro Crime Commission and is a recipient of their Twelve Apostles of Justice Award. He is a past president and current board member of Crime Stoppers Wichita/Sedgwick County. The Admiral and his wife, Mylene, recently celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary. They have one son, Chase, who graduated from the University of Kansas and now lives in the Kansas City area.
As the official ambassador of Riverfest 2019, Atnip will visit children in local hospitals, speak to Wichita civic organizations and help host dozens of events during the nine days of Riverfest, May 31-June 8. He will be assisted by the 2019 Prairie Schooner Mates, who were also present at today’s event. These high school juniors are selected by their schools to be youth representatives for Riverfest.