An annual cross-state bicycle will be stopping in Clinton later this year, bringing well over 1,000 cyclists to the heart of the county and a boost to the local economy along with the spike in population.
The 2016 Cycle North Carolina “Mountains to Coast” route was announced at the Visit NC 365 Conference on Monday. The 18th annual ride will extend from Banner Elk to Atlantic Beach from Oct. 1-8, 2016, with 1,100 bicyclists expected to participate. Over the course of the week, riders will average a ride of 60 miles per day.
Cycle NC was developed to promote the state’s scenic beauty, heritage tourism, visitor attractions, historic sites, state parks, fitness, healthy lifestyles and the benefits of bicycling. Every year for nearly two decades, Cycle NC has stopped overnight in more than 100 North Carolina towns and visited nearly 700 communities in this state.
This year, Clinton is on that list.
Along the 2016 trek, overnight stays are planned for the towns of Wilkesboro, Lexington, Burlington, Sanford, Clinton and Jacksonville.
Sheila Barefoot, director of the Sampson Convention and Visitors Bureau, was part of Cycle NC’s announcement in Cherokee. She called on Sampsonians to welcome Cycle NC to the town on Oct. 6.
“We are so honored that Cycle NC has chosen Clinton as their sixth overnight stop for their statewide tour. This event will be a huge economic impact for Sampson County; as well as, our industry partners.”
Created in 1999, the Cycle North Carolina “Mountains to Coast” Tour is the state’s only fully-supported ride. It was founded by the N.C. Division of Tourism, Capital Broadcasting Company, N.C. Department of Transportation and North Carolina Amateur Sports.
Registration for the event is capped at 1,100 for the annual event and support staff is anticipated to expand that number to a total of 1,300-1,500 visitors in town on Oct. 6. About half the cyclists are expected to camp out on the Sampson Agri-Exposition Center property, however the remaining portion will stay at lodging facilities. Details are still being ironed out.
“We are very excited that Cycle North Carolina has chosen Clinton to be an overnight stop for this year’s cross-state tour,” said Barefoot. “This will be a huge economic impact for Sampson County, and we will definitely roll out the red carpet for this group. We will have more details in the upcoming months and couldn’t be more thrilled.”
Those details are expected to include a shuttle service that will transport visitors from the Expo Center to various stops throughout the community, such as the downtown, the Sampson History Museum and various restaurants and shopping areas.
For more information, or to register for the ride itself, visit www.cyclenorthcarolina.org.
Alive After Five set
In conjunction with the Cycle NC tour, there will be two concerts on that Thursday, Oct. 6, which will close out the just-announced 2016 Alive After Five Summer Concert Series.
La Grange-based Spare Change, veterans to Alive After Five, will grace the stage along with homegrown band Eastline, a group formed in early 2015 that has the distinction of being the first truly local band to play as part of the series. Eastline consists of founding members Steve Shipp, David Gray and Ronald Anderson, all Sampson natives, along with Terry Crenshaw, Jamie Tart and Allen Pier.
This year’s sixth season will feature five free public concerts from May through October. Since its inception the Alive After Five (AA5) Committee, bolstered by partnerships with the Sampson Arts Council, City of Clinton and Sampson County, as well as more than 100 sponsors, has put on 28 concerts over the years.
“Sponsors are the key component that has led to the success of this series,” AA5 committee member Robert Stroud said.
Committee members, local officials and attendees have long praised the concerts with being family-friendly events that are fun and entertaining for all ages.
“Each concert provides attendees the opportunity to catch up with neighbors and old friends, as well as providing a venue for meeting newcomers to the community,” fellow AA5 committee member Ross Kimbro stated.
Concerts from May through September will be held at the Clinton City Market on Lisbon Street. The Oct. 6 shows are tentatively expected to be in the Agri-Expo parking lot due to the large crowd expected and preparations for that weekend’s street fair.
Other acts on the AA5 lineup include newcomers Black & Blue Experience on May 19 and Soul Psychedelique on June 19. After a break in July, perennial favorites Jim Quick & Coastline and Band of Oz will perform on Aug. 18 and Sept. 15, respectively.
Event attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and sunscreen. No coolers or pets are allowed.
To become a sponsor, contact any committee member or AA5 chairman Ray Jordan via email at [email protected] or call 910-592-6451. The deadline to become a sponsor is Wednesday, April 20. For more information, visit www.aliveafterfiveclintonnc.com.
Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.