Nathan Woodside | Hearst Illinois
EDWARDSVILLE — The 10th annual Rotary Criterium Festival took place on Saturday with races, food and community gathering in Edwardsville.
“Ten years is an amazing milestone,” said Senior Vice President of TheBANK of Edwardsville Grady Ambuel. “Every year getting to see these kids enjoy themselves is just priceless.”
Sponsored by TheBANK of Edwardsville >>> Busey Bank, this year’s festival saw hundreds of cyclists participating in high-speed bike races as well as runners for the 1.4-mile Downtown Dash.
“We love this event because it has things for both kids and adults to do,” said Katie Grahek of Glen Carbon, whose two children participated in the kids races.
“The f estival is always a great hit downtown,” said Officer Jackson Nolen, “This is a great town and we enjoy seeing all the racers.”
Racers from all over the area participated, like 21-year-old Austin Gomes of St. Charles, Missouri, who raced in the Pro Cat 1/2 with his friend, Jacob Slosar of Edwardsville.
“I love racing because it is such an adrenaline rush,” said Gomes. “And this race is at night so it is even more exciting under the street lights.”
“You go to some races around the region and there are only a couple of people, so they are pretty boring,” added Slosar. “But here in Edwardsville, there is always a big crowd so we really get into it.”
The Rotary Criterium Festival was dedicated to the memory and service of late Edwardsville Rotarian Lois Ladd and her husband, Mike. Lois’ brother Roger Buchta provided tribute in a festive tribute.
“We were thinking about what to do and decided to just ‘Lois it up,’” said Buchta. “We put all these Mardi Gras beads and Flamingos out, which she loved, and set up where she always used to during the festival.” The display was near the corner of St. Louis Street and North Main Street.
“She would set up here because she thought that this turn was particularly dangerous and, in case anyone fell and got hurt, she could be there in an instant to administer first aid,” said Buchta. “She was like that — always helping anytime she could.”
Seemingly, the most popular feature at the festival were the kids races.
Six-time Olympic medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee was the announcer of the kid races and was available for a meet and greet.
“It’s really exciting and fun to see all these races,” said Joyner-Kersee. Joyner-Kersee, a native of East St Louis. As a special guest, Joyner-Kersee awarded medals and was available for a meet and greet Saturday during the festival.