WINONA LAKE — The Fat & Skinny Tire Festival has been a core part of summer activities in Winona Lake for 13 years, bringing community members and tourists together in the pursuit of a shared love of biking and the outdoors. The 2016 festival, which began Friday, May 20, and continues through Sunday, got off to a great start.
Greg Demopoulos, co-director and founder of the festival, said, “We had 549 people do the community ride between Warsaw and Winona Lake yesterday… Our first year we pulled off the Festival with 16 volunteers. This year we needed 175 volunteers.”
Locals aren’t the only people who come to Festival to compete, or just enjoy the activities available. “We’ve got people coming in from Pennsylvania… Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Chicago,” Demopoulos said.
“We firmly believe that investing, becoming, and staying bicycle friend community is economically, socially, and physically better for everyone,” Demopoulos continued.
The popularity of the event was easy to see in the crowds that milled about the alleys and roads of Winona Lake. Many were on bicycles, but the majority were on foot. “This is our second year,” Sarah Sparks, a festival attendee, said, while helping her children get signed up for some of the activities for children.
“Last year we had lots of fun so we definitely came back this year,” she continued, helping tie a paper bracelet around her son, Coulton’s arm.
“I’m excited for the bike race,” said Coulton Sparks, while his mother helped him get ready.
Another attendee, Adam Church, of Silver Lake also had a lot to say about the festival. “I’ve been coming for years, since I was 10 … It’s just huge for this community.”
The festival not only gives families and community members a chance to celebrate and spend time together, it can really help out the local businesses in the Village At Winona.
Barry McManus, the owner and operator of Trailhouse Village Bicycles said, “It [Festival] brings a lot of cyclists in, people who are all potentially my customers … People come down here all weekend long.”
Whether an attendee, competitor or business owner, the Fat & Skinny Tire Festival seems to have something for everyone. Demopoulos also commented, “We want people to get outside, enjoy the fresh air and just celebrate together.”