New Belgium Brewing’s Tour de Fat, the nation’s most colorful bike festival, has passed the $2 million mark for total funds raised for nonprofit organizations. Tour de Fat began 13 years ago and has grown into a 15-city nationwide tour focused on honoring mankind’s favorite invention: the bike.
At every stop, Tour de Fat brings together thousands of people for a costumed bike parade, New Belgium beer, a car-for-bike swap, live entertainment, local food vendors, bike competitions (like the “slowest race” and bike jousting) and much more. But the free event is truly focused on philanthropy. Money raised through beer and merchandise purchases is channeled back into each community through local nonprofit organizations generally focused on bike advocacy.
“This milestone shows that Tour de Fat really reaches into communities for much longer than one day at the park,” said Matt Kowal, Tour de Fat Impresario. “The stories we hear from local folks who are committed to community involvement inspire us. We couldn’t have raised more than $2 million without the tremendous support we receive in every city and we’re extremely thankful.”
Over the course of Tour de Fat, raised funds have made a tremendous impact across the country, with money going toward trail maintenance, safety education, lobbying for better bicycle communities and a wide variety of other impactful initiatives, including:
- Overland Mountain Bike Club has used funds raised from the Ft. Collins, CO stop to fund Outreach Days such as Take a Kid Mountain Biking Days, Educational Trail Days at trailheads, helmet programs for kids and to support high school mountain biking. Overland Mountain Bike Club also used the funds to build and maintain trails and to outfit its Mountain Bike Patrol members and make sure they have the proper first aid and mechanical training.
- Southwest Idaho Mountain Bike Association (SWIMBA), has used funds raised from the Boise, ID stop to buy new bikes for SWIMBA Bike School. Money also went toward BYRDS (Boise Young Rider Development Squad), which teaches kids skills and etiquette for road, cross and mountain biking. In addition SWIMBA gave some money to Eagle Cycle Park, which has a BMX track, cross-country and downhill trails and funds are going toward tail easements.
- West Town Bikes used funds from the Chicago stop to develop new programs, upgrade facilities, pay rent, and to allow the group to continue to be on the forefront of bicycle advocacy by offering direct services that aren’t found elsewhere in Chicago. West Town Bikes promotes bicycling through bicycle learning workshops, including mechanics workshops and youth programs.
This year’s stop in Nashville, the first festival of the 2012 tour, is what pushed the grand total to more than $2 million. The event benefited Walk/Bike Nashville, Ride for Reading, and SoundForest.
“Tour de Fat is many things to Nashville; it is an enabler, an educator, a voice, a uniter, inspiration, a life changer and a damn great time,” said Thomas Solinsky, executive director of SoundForest. “New Belgium Brewing enables our local bicycle advocate nonprofits to do great things. In fact, an outcome of last year’s Tour de Fat was the forming of the NashvilleBicycleAlliance.org.”
In 2011 alone, Tour de Fat traveled to 13 cities, attracting a total of 69,550 festival attendees and 41,150 parade cyclists. It also raised $401,563 and boasted an impressive 90 percent diversion of waste from landfills.
Tour de Fat 2012 is cycling through each of the following cities:
Nashville, TN – June 2 – Centennial Park
Washington DC – June 16 – Yards Park
Durham, NC – June 23 – Diamond View Park on the American Tobacco Campus
Atlanta, GA – June 30 – Historic 4th Ward Park
Milwaukee, WI – July 14 – Coast Guard Event Area, McKinley Park
Chicago, IL – July 21 – Palmer Square
Minneapolis, MN – July 28 – Loring Park
Boise, ID – August 18 – Ann Morrison Park
Fort Collins, CO – September 1 – Civic Center Park Area
Denver, CO – September 8 – City Park
Los Angeles, CA – September 15 – Los Angeles State Historic Park
San Francisco, CA – September 22 – Lindley Meadow in Golden Gate Park
San Diego, CA – September 29 – Golden Hill Park
Tempe, AZ – October 6 – Tempe Town Lake
Austin, TX – October 20 – Fiesta Gardens