Annual rotary festival draws local communities

Racers in the master’s category, a category for racers over the age of 40, pedaling towards the fi nish line for another lap on the updated 1.4 mile route.

Taking place on August 21 in downtown Edwardsville, the annual Edwardsville Rotary Criterium Festival brought a warm afternoon of cycling and music for people from all over to enjoy. 

This marks the eleventh year the Edwardsville Rotary Criterium Festival has taken place. According to the Intelligencer, the estimated number of people who attended ranged from 5,000 to 8,000 people. 

Sponsored by Busey Bank, the event lasted all afternoon and held nine different races for different types of cyclists. During the novice and pro events, the crowd showed their excitement with cheering and clapping.

The festival also included the Downtown Dash event, which included a two-lap foot race on the course that was open to all who wanted to sign up.

The Intelligencer reported that 225 racers from 14 states and 74 cities were registered this year. 

According to the Intelligencer, the Pro Cat 1, 2 and 3 races were also competing for a monetary prize. Cat 1 and 2 racers were competing for a minimum of $2,000 between 10 racers with Cat 3 racers competing for a minimum of $900.

Jim Vysoky, a participant in the Novice Cat 5 race, said the new track was something he looked forward to racing on, but expected the track to be difficult to get used to.

“My goal for today is just to finish the race. It’s the first year for this course, so I don’t have any expectations other than [that] it’s going to be hard,” Vysoky said.

Volunteers from the community and the Edwardsville Rotary Club helped set up the event prior, with members helping set up tents and helping to assist participants and spectators if they needed.

Club Secretary Carrie Babington said she had worked the event for 10 of the 11 years it has been held and said her goals were primarily based on making sure participants and spectators were able to be safe. Being a long time member of the club, Babington said she values the sense of community the event provides.

“[I value] the camaraderie with the other rotarians in the community. You get to meet new people every year and get to know your fellow rotarians [and] different rotarians every year because you work with different people,” Babington said.

Another volunteer and member of the club, Laura Mattson, said this was her first time getting involved in this event, and that she had high expectations for how well it would go.

“This event today is to support the community, support our small businesses and to bring everybody together and get to know each other and just bond,” Mattson said.

Mattson said her reason for volunteering for the festival is due to how large the festival is in the area.

“It’s one of the biggest events in Edwardsville and it attracts people from all over — it brings people from all surrounding areas into Edwardsville so they can see what a gem we have here,” Mattson said.

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