New cycling festival scheduled this fall | News | The Press and Standard

by | February 19, 2016 5:00 am

Last Updated: February 17, 2016 at 1:24 pm

A new festival is coming to Walterboro this fall.
FestiVELO, a USA Cycling sanctioned festival, will be held Nov. 9-14. Based at the Colleton Museum, Farmers Market & Commercial Kitchen, the cycling event will feature daily routes stretching across Colleton County from Lodge to Green Pond. Each morning and evening, meals and host events will be held at the Colleton Museum & Farmers Market hub.
“This is a great opportunity for Walterboro and Colleton County,” said tourism director Michelle Strickland. “Visitors will see the beauty of the Lowcountry as they travel on routes all over Colleton County, then they will return to Walterboro each day to see our local attractions, eat in our restaurants, shop in our stores and stay in our hotels.”
The event is different from the annual Criterium, which is planned in May. At FestiVELO cycling enthusiasts can ride in rural areas in different parts of the county each day for four days, then return to Walterboro each night to see the sights and attend events at the museum and farmers market.
In its 18th year, FestiVELO has traveled all over S.C., including Wadmalaw Island and Santee. Event organizer Charles Fox says they plan to keep this event in Walterboro for several years, bringing over 300 out-of-town visitors to Walterboro for five days and four nights.
“We are pleased to announce a move to Walterboro for this year’s festival and are excited to bring you many of the same highlights as years before — from oyster roasts, to movies and popcorn under the stars, to ride lengths that fit everyone from beginners and young riders to experienced racers,” he said. “We want our riders and their families to connect with shops, restaurants and things to do in Walterboro.”
For more information please contact Michelle Strickland, tourism director, at 843-538-4353 or Gary Brightwell, Colleton Museum, Farmers Market & Commercial Kitchen Director, at 843-549-2303. To register or learn more about the event, please visit www.festivelo.org or contact Charles Fox at charles@festivelo.org.

What is FestiVELO?
According to the FestiVELO website:
It all started as a group of friends who wanted to get together and work off all the Thanksgiving dinners they had devoured. Little could that small group have realized on that first Thanksgiving weekend, in 1998, just how popular this ride would become and just how many cyclists would want to take part!
The next year it was called Pedal for the Pooches, and was a benefit for the SPCA. The event featured a one-day ride on Johns Island with an after-ride celebrity chili cook-off at a rooftop bar with a view of the fireworks that were part of the Christmas Boat Parade.
By the year 2000, a decision was made to support bicycle causes. The name was changed to the “Rural Ride ’Round the Islands,” and the ride was moved to the first weekend in December in order to absorb all the marvelous holiday events taking place in the Charleston area. Wadmalaw Island served as the home base and center of activity for the next three years.
As the islands gradually became less and less rural, the event was moved to the City of Charleston, and in 2004 became known as FestiVELO de Charleston: The Holiday Festival of Bicycles for Families. Since that time, FestiVELO has hosted cyclists from 34 states and eight foreign countries.
2008 was the first year that FestiVELO was organized from Overton Park near Moncks Corner with four routes around Lake Moultrie and the Francis Marion National Forest.
Charles Fox has faithfully served as both ride and event director since he founded the event in 1998, and the entire Fox family has donated countless hours to making this one of Bicycling Magazine’s “Can’t Miss Winter Rides.” There are over 100 key leaders and endless dedicated volunteers who devote a large part of their time to bring FestiVELO to life, and without whom FestiVELO would not occur.
How did they come up with the name FestiVELO? Anna Fox explains: “It started with a long car ride, just me and my dad. He was telling me about how he was trying to change the “Rural Ride ’Round the Islands,” which was just too hard to say. So we played the name game, coming up with a bunch of acronyms, ideas like festival of bikes, and Tour de Charleston … Nothing was sticking. So I thought about the big idea — this was a festival, a time to meet new people, explore new things and relax with your family. FESTIVAL was a party we had in middle school, and VELO is the French word for bicycle. Marry the two and you get FestiVELO — a fun-filled fitness weekend!”

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