When you have an event that has packs of bicyclists speeding down residential streets, how can you ramp up the excitement level?
For the organizers of Saturday's Winfield Criterium, it involves taking what traditionally had been a two-day event and consolidating it into a single day crammed with professional and amateur races.
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Winfield CriteriumWhen: Noon to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, July 12
Where: Oakwood Park on the village's north side
They also set aside more than $8,000 in prize money for the winners of various age groups and ability categories.
"We're offering one of the biggest prize lists in the Midwest," said Mary Lee Geraghty, vice president of the Athletes By Design Cycling Club. The club partners with the Advocates of the Winfield Riverwalk to organize the criterium.
More than 300 cyclists from throughout the Midwest are expected to participate in Saturday's races, which begin at noon and end by 7:30 p.m. All the races will be staged at Oakwood Park on Winfield's north side.
A criterium is a type of race in which riders do multiple laps on a short course.
Winfield's first criterium was held 14 years ago to help attract visitors to the downtown area. So many people attended through the years that the criterium grew to the point where it's become a tradition for the community.
"Having a pro sporting event of any kind held in Winfield is a pretty big deal," Geraghty said.
She said Winfield residents have embraced it. "Neighbors are going to be throwing parties along the course, which makes it very entertaining for the cyclists," Geraghty said.
Another treat for the cyclists is the recent completion of road repairs along the 1.25-mile course.
"They're going to have a smooth ride," Geraghty said. "It's going to be a fast race."
For racers and spectators, beverages and food will be for sale. Entertainment will include professional juggler Andy Head and magician Wayne Braun and a kids race scheduled for 3:50 p.m. There also will be four BMX stunt performances by Rise Above.
"I would recommend catching one of the BMX shows because that's over the top," Geraghty said.
After the races, there will be a party in the park featuring music by Mike Flynn and Tony Altimari.
Proceeds raised from the criterium will be donated to the Advocates of the Winfield Riverwalk. The nonprofit group is raising money to help pay for the village's proposed riverwalk construction project.
For more information about the Winfield Criterium, visit winfieldcriterium.com.