Plus, it offers a spectacle unlike anything most are apt to see away from their big-screen TVs. And it’s all by design, explains Noble Street Festival director Mike Poe.
“We try to offer multiple attractions so as to appeal to most anyone, and we try to keep it all very family-friendly and high-quality,” he said. “When we first started the event, we decided that a bait-and-switch strategy might work. We would bait the masses downtown for good food and great activities for kids and then we knew they’d discover the bike races and become hooked on this incredible spectator sport.
“Where else can you stand a few feet away and watch a pack of 120 cyclists pedal up to 40 mph, racing inches apart and taking 90-degree turns at these speeds? It’s NASCAR on two wheels.”
Oh, and it’s free.
With each year, the Noble Street Festival has honed its presentation as organizers have aspired to make vendors, food and other activities more organized. Still, for those first-time visitors, it can be overwhelming, so here is an all-encompassing guide to the 2012 Noble Street Festival:
Course: The Sunny King Criterium features a 1-mile course covering a large square downtown — from the intersection of Noble and 11th streets (the start/finish) travel east on 11th to Wilmer Avenue. Turn left (north) on Wilmer to 13th Street. Turn left (west) on 13th, crossing Noble Street to Gurnee Avenue. Turn left (south) on Gurnee to 11th Street. Turn left (east) on 11th and complete the loop at 11th and Noble. Racers will travel around this course for between 30 and 60 minutes, pending on the advanced stage of the race.
Organizers recommend spectators walk around the race course in the opposite direction of the race and watch the riders as they take corners at upward of 30 mph. While the largest crowd will be at the start/finish, it can be entertaining to watch somewhere else on the course.
Restaurants are stationed between the music stage and start/finish of the races, along Noble Street between 9th and 11th streets. Many restaurants will begin serving early in day — as early as noon. All restaurants will serve from 4-8 p.m.
Tickets are available in strips of 13 for $15 and in strips of four for $5. Restaurants price each menu item using tickets. There will be multiple ticket booths at the festival, but to avoid potential ticket lines, tickets may be purchased in advance at NobleBank & Trust or at A.G. Edwards in Anniston.
Restaurants: Anthony’s Mexican Restaurant, Bonnie Ray’s Bake Shoppe, Chick-fil-A of Oxford, Classic on Noble, Cooter Brown’s Rib Shack, Garfrericks Cafe, J’s Wings & Fish, Jasmine Chinese Cuisine, Mata’s Greek Pizza, Mellow Mushroom, Sonny’s Real Pit Bar-B-Q, Sneaky Pete’s Hot Dogs.
The Noble Street Festival in recent years has become known almost as much for its live music as for the Criterium, and this year’s no exception. Under the big top of the Hot Blast Music Café, more than 200 people can sit and enjoy a variety of local acts.
11 a.m.: T.A.D. of Jazz
Noon: Double Wide Soul
1 p.m.: Lindsey Hinkle
2 p.m.: Abby Parks
3 p.m.: Stephen Hartsfield
4 p.m.: The Gypsy Begonias
5 p.m.: 2 Pennies
6 p.m.: Strange Heirs
Just for the kids
Many of the children’s activities are free, though some have a small fee. All Scion KidZone activities will be at the intersection of 10th and Noble streets — just look for the big tents.
The free KidZone Activities include: BMX Two-Wheeled Bike Stunt Shows, Starwalk Sealand Play Zone, Ted Turgeon’s Tae kwon do, “Star Wars” cast roaming the festival from 2-6 p.m., an Anniston Army Depot Stryker, a Calhoun County Sheriff’s tank, KidzArt tent and much more.
Given all the available food, snacks and other goodies available throughout the day, it might be wise to get a head start on burning calories. Though the festival begins at 10 a.m., its unofficial kickoff comes at 7:30 a.m. with the Anniston Orthopedic YMCA 5K run. Later in the day, kids will have the chance to burn off any extra energy with the 5:15 p.m. Mellow Mushroom Mad Dash one lap running race, followed by the “Just For Fun” kids bike race at 5:35 p.m.