Tour de Fat, Milwaukee 2011
Over the weekend, I went to one of the most fun festivals I've been to in a while, which says a lot, seeing as how I live in the City of Festivals, itself.
Tour de Fat is a traveling festival, making its way around the nation thanks to New Belgium Brewing Company, which happens to be one of my favorite breweries around. The tour exists to celebrate the biking community, and has an air of steampunk vaudeville that hosts entertainment from everyone from toddlers to octogenarians (which, I promise, I saw plenty of both and all those in between).
The festival itself took place in Milwaukee's Humboldt Park, right in our neighborhood! It kicked off in the morning with a bike parade, filled with eccentric costumed bikers pedaling through the streets of Bay View. Thankfully, the parade route went right near our house, so we were able to see all the totally creative costumes and unique bikes.
After the parade, the festival had a plethora of activities so you were never really standing around, waiting for the next act. The first thing we checked out when we got there was the bike pit. It was filled with a bunch of hand-crafted, totally Dr. Seuss-looking creations, open for everyone to try.
There were plenty of games for the hoards of kids there.
There was also a "Bicycle Dating Game," which was a sort of cheesy, slightly funny sketch, but the "winner," pulled from the audience, ended up winning an awesome cruiser bike!
It was a clear, beautiful summer day, but unfortunately is was ridiculously hot and humid. Everyone was looking for any shaded spot they could find. Luckily, the tour set up "cooling stations," which provided shade, and the one Eric and I found ourselves under even had an awesome rigged-up stationery bike. Every few minutes, someone would hop on and pedal, and the pedaling powered an amazingly refreshing misting system throughout the tent. It was definitely a welcome treat.
But my favorite part of the festival was music headliner Free Energy. This is a band I first heard a few months ago and instantly enjoyed. They're a fun-loving, slightly garagey, slacker rock group that clearly makes sure their audience is having a good time. Hailing from Philadelphia, they sure knew how to win over their Wisconsin crowd when the frontman shouted to the lead guitarist, "Take 'em to the Dells!" If you're not from Wisconsin you may not get this reference to the Water Park Capital of the world, but it had the crowd roaring (Especially when referencing the Dells staple Tommy Bartlett Show). When I heard they were playing this festival, there was no way I was going to miss it.
The day ended with a big-ol' Ferris-Bueller inspired number to say goodbye to everyone, complete with confetti galore (which this kids gobbled up in hoards as soon as it all hit the ground).
This was the second year the Tour de Fat made a stop in Milwaukee and I'm really, really hoping it continues to do so every year. With New Belgium brews flowing, activities to keep everyone occupied and fantastic entertainment, this festival has been my favorite one attended this entire summer. The tour makes stops in major cities around the country all summer/fall, so check out their route and if they come anywhere near where you live, you'll definitely want to head over and experience the fun.