by Kirby LindsayOn July 31, from 10a – 5p, a touring company, sponsored by New Belgium Brewing, will bring their annual celebration of bicycles and bicycling to Gasworks Park. Called Tour de Fat, and in its 11th season, this free, festive, family-friendly philanthropic circus welcomes all interested in a bit of fun, and bicycles, to pass a summer’s day.
Plenty To Do, See and Celebrate
The day begins, after registration, with an open-to-all bike parade, at 11am. Everyone on a bike can participate, and all are encouraged to costume themselves to excess. “I think you would feel more odd without one than with,” explained Bryan Simpson, a spokesperson for New Belgium.
For Simpson, the day’s highlight has to be the ‘Car-For-Bike’ Trade. Around 2:35p, by the tentative schedule, one person - selected from the videos and essays of applicants - will trade in the keys to their car for a hand-built Black Sheep commuter bike. This winner agrees to go car-free for one year, with a special celebration planned in their honor to mark their commitment. This will be the fourth year New Belgium has made this exchange, in dozens of cities nationwide.
In addition, throughout the day, Tour de Fat offers a variety entertainment by vaudeville and musical acts including the Terror Pigeon Dance Revolt, The Dovekins, Honeymoon Cabaret, Jonathan Burns and Americaine: Stupide. They also bring in (and welcome people to bring along) a wild collection of art, experimental and just plain strange bicycles. “I don’t think the bicycle content has gone anything but up,” admitted Simpson.
It Plays Well In Seattle
New Belgium Brewing, makers of Fat Tire Ale, have staged the Tour de Fat festivals since 2000, with their first ever show taking place in Seattle. Simpson acknowledged that the celebration has grown from those humble beginnings – only about 1000 people showed up for that first Tour. Now the road show plays to a growing audience in a variety of venues covering 13 cities, including Chicago, Los Angeles and Austin, Texas.
Tour de Fat will also go home, to Fort Collins, Colorado, and the headquarters of New Belgium. The idea for Tour de Fat came, according to Simpson, from a desire “to give back to the bicycling community,” by a company started, “while on a bike trip through Belgium.”
The event is free, and worth a visit both by those who live and die by their bike, and those under the misconception that if they’ve seen one bicycle, they’ve seen them all. It’s also a great place to buy a beer, or two, and some merchandise, because all money raised will go to two local non-profits - the Bicycle Alliance of Washington and Bike Works.
In fact, the celebration is evolving into a celebration of green behavior. With support from Sustainable Seattle, they’ve built the event environmentally friendly - waste will be composted or recycled, the stage is solar-powered and all trucks and motorized transport use bio-fuel.
It’s no wonder this celebration launched in Seattle, and continues to thrive here. The only wonder is why more people don’t jump on their bicycle, skateboard or unicycle and spin their way down to Gasworks on July 31st to join the fun!
©2010 Kirby Lindsay. This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.