Get ready to celebrate all things bicycle at Tour de Fat’s inaugural stop in the District. New Belgium Brewery’s 13-city tour is designed to give back to cycling communities around the nation by raising money for bike advocacy. The all-day festival features a costumed bike parade, keg party, experimental performance art, street theater and rideable bike art. On June 16, Tour de Fat brings the fun to Yards Park in the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood, just south of Capitol Hill.
“It’s a high-density, bicycle-savvy city that we know will rally for the cause,” New Belgium’s spokes model Bryan Simpson said of DC. “We hope to convert even more bike riders into bike advocates in the Nation’s capital.”
Simpson was one of the two original team members at the Colorado-based brewing company who took the show on the road in 2000.
The festival will kick off with a costumed bike parade through the city’s streets. Simpson described the parade as “a rolling mini-Mardi Gras,” and continued, “the best way to stand out in the crowd is to not wear a costume.”
At noon, everyone will return to Yards Park to tap the kegs and enjoy live music by circus punk marching band Mucca Pazza and folk rocker/cellist Ian Cooke. Husband and wife duo Yo-Yo People will blend yo-yos with hula hooping and unicycling along with other eclectic street theater. New Belgium also finds one person from every city to trade their car for a custom bike and to commit to living car-free for a year.
“They are pretty much the hero of the day and we hoist them on stage and the crowd goes wild,” Simpson said. “It’s pretty inspiring.”
Local non-profit organizations, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA), and the Mid-Atlantic Off Road Enthusiasts (MORE) will benefit from beer sales and merchandise. Volunteers will be present to help run the event and to share information about their individual organizations.
“Yards Park is the perfect spot to highlight the new Anacostia Riverwalk Trail and our local natural resources,” said Gregory Billing, WABA’s Outreach & Advocacy Coordinator. “The park is also steps from the U.S. Department of Transportation headquarters which sends a strong bicycle message to national decision makers based here in DC. WABA couldn’t be more excited to be partnering with New Belgium Brewery to spread the good word about the positive societal offerings of the bicycle and have fun doing it!”
MORE President Dave Ferraro is also pumped for the event. “New Belgium is a great company and our partner organization, WABA, is just as sublime,” Ferraro said. “[We’re] looking forward to a day of celebrating bicycle culture!”
Simpson is confident that you’ve never seen or experienced anything like Tour de Fat.
“The very first show a guy came up to me with tears in his eyes and said it was the best day of the summer,” he said. “It’s gotten infinitely better since those days. People say it’s like Christmas and Halloween all rolled into one and landing on your birthday.”
Tour de Fat will take place Saturday June 16, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m, at Yards Park: 10 Water St. SE, DC; 202-465-7093; www.newbelgium.com/tour-de-fat