FestiVELO comes to town | Sports | The Press and Standard
by The Press and Standard | November 15, 2017 5:00 pm
Last Updated: November 15, 2017 at 9:55 am
By CINDY CROSBY
Wondering what all the bicyclists spotted across the county last week were doing here?
Walterboro played host to the 20th annual FestiVELO — a four-day unique cycling event where riders choose from three different scenic Lowcountry routes for morning rides before enjoying afternoons and evenings filled with food, socializing and entertainment.
The Colleton Museum and Farmers Market served as the hub for the 380 riders who participated in the four-day event, 270 of whom were three-to-four-day riders. The group accounted for over 1,000 hospitality nights in local hotels, bed and breakfasts and campgrounds. An overflow camping area was arranged in cooperation with the Colleton County Recreation Center in the field across from Colleton County Middle School.
According to FestiVELO contact Randall Bennett, the cycling event likely had a positive economic impact on the local economy. “With 380 riders, including walk-ups, we saw the number of three- and four-day riders dramatically increase by over a hundred riders from last year,” said Bennett, “meaning those folks stayed in the community and explored, while enjoying the local restaurants and shopping in the local grocery and retail stores.
“Next year, we plan to work in advance with local leaders to ensure people know FestiVELO is coming to help businesses prepare,” said Bennett.
FestiVELO began in 1998, when a group of friends gathered to work off their Thanksgiving feasts with a bike ride. The gathering continued to grow over the years and changed homes several times from Johns Island and Wadmalaw Island, to Downtown Charleston, and then to Moncks Corner before coming to Walterboro.
“Jeffrey Herndon was instrumental in getting FestiVELO to Walterboro,” explained Bennett. “He went out of his way to make sure we were welcomed and put an incredible amount of energy into helping us get established in the community. Everyone has been so welcoming — from the moment we arrived, we have been treated incredibly. The people in this community are so very gracious and respectful — everyone has been amazing.”
FestiVELO participants this year boasted an average age of 58, with 60-64 being the largest age group and 56-60 coming in a close second. Riders represented 27 different states and Canada. Riders could choose between three routes that suited their ambition and skill level, while traveling 20-30 miles, 55-65 miles, or 95-105 mile routes.
Breakfast and hot meals were provided at designated rest spots throughout the day; then riders enjoyed themed dinners, drinks, activities and entertainment in the evenings.