More than 800 bicycle riders and 200 support people plan to stop in Chanute in mid-June as part of the annual Bike Across Kansas event.
The overnight stop could have a significant economic impact, according to Jane Brophy, director of the Chanute Area Chamber of Commerce & Office of Tourism.
“We had been hoping for that for a very, very long time,” Brophy told members of the Tourism Committee Wednesday.
The riders will stay overnight at Chanute High School, and the chamber and other organizers are lining up area businesses and attractions for them to visit while they’re in town. Transportation will also be organized from CHS to downtown.
The 539-mile ride starts June 9, traveling from the Colorado border to Elkhart. It finishes June 17 after riding from Garnett to the Missouri border.
The bicyclists will start in Eureka June 15 and travel 63 miles to Chanute through Coyville, arriving as early as 10 am. The riders will be able to use the high school showers and stay overnight in the gymnasium or camping on campus, then leave June 16 to travel 55 miles to Garnett through Iola.
Ten years ago, the route went through Chanute on its way to an overnight stay in Humboldt, Brophy said, but the city still had several visitors to the Martin and Osa Johnson Safari Museum and wore out the milkshake machine at Cardinal Drug.
Forms are available at the chamber office for anyone who wants to assist or for businesses that want to offer specials or advertise. The forms must be returned no later than March 31 so the route guide can be printed April 15.
In other discussion Wednesday, the tourism committee discussed the Safari Family Fun Day on the last Saturday in April. Activities will include a petting zoo, a potter’s wheel demonstration, a downtown sidewalk sale, and a display from the Chanute Fire Department.
Brophy reported on plans to apply for the State Park Revitalization and Investment in Notable Tourism grant, a one-time program to distribute $30 million in total funds. The minimum request is $500,000 and there is no matching requirement.
Brophy plans to seek $2 million, including $250,000 for a miniature golf course. Additional funds would go towards the depot that houses the Chanute Public Library and the Safari Museum. The grant administrators may provide funding for a portion of the request, if not all.
The annual Attraction Development grant is open again this year, Brophy said. It requires a 60-40 match.
The committee also discussed plans for the Downtown Block Party on July 1 as part of the city’s 150th anniversary celebration. The party will feature the Inspyral Circus, and the chamber is offering 10-foot by 10-foot booths.
The booths will not be for vendors, business advertisement or direct sales, but for activities like face painting or craft projects.
“It is a downtown block party with fun stuff,” Brophy said.
Another event for the anniversary celebration, a historical recipes cook-off, may be changed, Brophy said. It was planned for June, which might conflict with BAK.
The chamber has contracted for a new website, Brophy reported, which will be able to take payments and share job listings.
She also reported that the Office of Rural Prosperity will have another round of grants, and there are plans for an additional downtown mural by the railroad crossing.
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