EUREKA SPRINGS -- The Fat Tire Festival coming to Eureka Springs this weekend is a three-day bicycling extravaganza filled with competitions, races, family fun and free kids' events.
The event begins Friday, July 13, at 2 p.m., with Short Track practice, warm-ups and a timed trial run beginning at 3 p.m.
The short track is a half-mile, flat loop at Achord's mototrack at Elk Ranch. Racers will have a set time that they must meet in order to qualify for the main competition.
There are seven categories for this race and the first race begins at 5:30 p.m. Registration for the Short Track and Omni competition is from 4-7 p.m, with awards beginning at 9:30 p.m. Spectators can see the full course from the start.
At 7:30 p.m. the Kid's Short Race begins at Achord's mototrack. The race is one to two laps around the half-mile track, depending on the age group of the racers. Three different age groups will race: 6 and under, 7 to 8 years and 9 to 10 years. This is always a highlight of the kids' events, organizers say.
A costume cruiser/single-speed race will also be at the Short Track and is free for all ages. Dressing up yourself and your bike is all part of the fun. Any bike can enter, but in order to qualify to win the race it must be a single-speed or cruiser-style bicycle. Prizes and trophies will be awarded for best costume and winner of the race. Awards immediately follow the event.
The public is invited to the afterparty at Sparky's at 10 p.m on Friday.
The Saturday, July 14, events begin at 10 a.m. with the Downhill Race on the Lake Leatherwood "Downhill Challenge Trail." Registration begins at 8 a.m. at the Adventure Subaru Hospitality Tent.
The Downhill Challenge Trail is a dedicated one-way, one mile trail competition for the fastest time traveled downhill. "The average rider can take the trail in about 2 1/2 minutes," said festival organizer Dave Renko.
"The Lake Leatherwood Downhill Challenge Trail is the only public downhill trail in the Central U.S," he explained. Awards for this event will begin at 2 p.m. at Angler's Restaurant.
Rider safety is encouraged; as a precaution, a search and rescue team, as well as a medical response team, will be on staff for all competitions. Special skills gear is required to participate in the Downhill Race and should include a full face helmet and body armor.
Children are asked to visit the Skills Course from 11 a.m. to noon at the Lake Leatherwood Ball Fields/ Subaru Kid's Tent. The skills course is a ground-level collection of wooden routes for the children to get comfortable rolling over the "curb" and other obstacles. Ground-level ladder bridges and grassy ramps will also be a part of the course -- imagine a free-ride bicycle park for kids.
At noon, the Black Bass Kid's Fun Ride kicks off. The ride is ideal for any child with an off-road or mountain bike. The ride consists of one lap around Black Bass Lake. A few trails will offer a more difficult ride options and children can choose options to fit their difficulty level.
At 3 p.m., the Observed Trials will begin at Harmon Park. The trials are a balance competition for riders where they will hop on one tire, jump, lurch and leap obstacles without touching their feet to the ground. Registration begins at 2 p.m.
An afterparty for the day's events will begin at 10 p.m. at Caribe.
On Sunday, July 15, the day kicks off at 7 a.m. with the XC (cross country) Timex Race to the Lake. The gun start is at 9 a.m. Pre-registration for this event is 6:30-8 p.m, Saturday at Inn of the Ozarks. Day of registration is 7-8:30 a.m. at City Auditorium. Awards for this event will be at 1 p.m. at the Adventure Subaru Hospitality Tent.
Beginning at 10 a.m., a kids' rodeo will begin at Lake Leatherwood Ball Fields/ Subaru Kid's Tent. There will be a skills course, barrel races and a slalom course, which are adapted for bicycles.
At noon, the Kid's XC Race will begin with the quarter-mile to one-mile race; approximately 5-15 minutes depending on experience level. All children will receive a ribbon, and the top three will receive a trophy. Awards immediately follow each of the events.
Long-time participants and local champions Larry Harrison and Denton West are among those who are helping Renko coordinate the event.
"The festival will be a good time in Eureka for anything wheeled and has a little something for everyone," said Renko.
For more information, visit FatTireFestival.com.