Festival Tour Celebration
Written by Patrick Stelte - July 2019
The 1960s was a seminal decade of change in the U.S. and around the world. The threat of nuclear global annihilation coupled with a culture of conformity and knowing your place opened the decade. These extreme opposites set the stage for an outburst of change that still reverberates today. 1969 closed the decade with events that are still remembered today. “Man walks on the Moon” was the apex of a promise that started the decade. Woodstock stamped a musical phenomenon of creativity just as the Rolling Stones concert at Altamont signaled the end of Flower Power. The draft was instituted in 1969 to supply the ongoing war in Vietnam. Stonewall and Chappaquiddick: one word events with lasting consequences. The Boeing 747 made its debut and PBS was established and ushered in Sesame Street to generations of children. Richard Nixon was sworn in as president and Charles Manson became a household name. Sports brought us the Miracle Mets and Eddy Merckx won the Tour de France GC, green jersey and polka dot jersey on his way to being considered the greatest cyclist ever born. 1969 closed with the first successful test of the Internet by a military funded program known as ARPARNET. If there was a phrase that crystalized the tumult of the decade, The Beatles found it by singing, “You say you want a revolution?”
Closer to home, the first Three Rivers Festival began in 1969. The festival was created to elevate community pride and diversity, celebrate our heritage and offer fun activities to bring people and families together. As most of you know, another germ of an idea was realized in 1969 that has lasted to this day: Three Rivers Velo Sport. The Festival and club are intertwined in a parallel history. We have grown together into regional known entities that are enjoyed by a variety of people joined in a belief of our community. Two years after the club was formed, the first Three Rivers Velo Sport Festival Tour was organized. For the last 48 years, the Festival and the Tour are synonymous.
When I think of the Festival Tour, my mind goes immediately to the volunteers that make it happen every year, a dedication to an idea that ferments with each encounter of a fellow cyclist. As president of the club, I am witness and initiator to the latest incarnation of our lasting tradition. Shortly after last year’s Tour, I formed a committee to begin planning a memorable celebration to climax the celebration of our fifty year existence. I am fortunate to have long-time club members Kent and Anne Ellis lead the committee and implement changes to our start location, route, SAG stops, marketing and registration swag. Mona Will, Johnny Grabowski and Pamela Fennell have suggested many great ideas and worked hard to make them happen. I cannot thank these wonderfully dedicated people enough for their efforts. They are treasures to be noted with past club members who have made the Tour an event that reminds cyclists of our commitment to the community and fellowship.
Every few years, the Festival Tour re-invents itself from the identity of the volunteers that command the task of tradition. On July 14th, we will unveil a wing-ding for two wheels that will be memorable for the miles and smiles. Commemorative socks marking our 50th anniversary accompany your registration along with a pocket swag-bag stuffed with cycling goodies. Our noted delicious SAG food returns and new routes of adventure await. There is an axiom of riding that states, “bring a buddy” that is apt for the Festival Tour. The memories last longer when conveyed with another.