It’s got a little bit of everything,” Garrison said. “It’s got music, food, fun for the kids and you can even buy a car if you want. They’ve got all the bases covered.”
Thousands took full advantage of the pleasant weather Saturday to attend the annual festival and the Sunny King Criterium cycling races. The festival featured various vendors, food from local restaurants, rides for children, arts and crafts, live music and even karate demonstrations.
And while enjoying the festivities, attendees were invited to watch hundreds of bikers from around the world race in and out of downtown throughout the day. Underneath a jumbo television broadcasting the event, onlookers watched as men and women in pink, red and neon green outfits periodically zip across Noble. On the outskirts of the festival, other competitors could be seen warming up on stationary bikes in preparation for their races.
Garrison and his family traveled from Munford to attend the festival as they have done nearly every year since the event began.
“We love it here,” Garrison said as his 2- and 5-year-old sons chomped on hotdogs.
Garrison said he was a little envious that Munford does not have a similar festival.
“They need to move (the festival) to Munford,” Garrison said with a laugh. “I’m going to try to see if they can move it a little farther south.”
While the Garrisons were enjoying some of the local cuisine, Charles Snead and his 13-year-old son Charlie of Tuscaloosa were warming up before their 2:30 p.m. bicycle race began. Snead said he and Charlie have raced in the Criterium for several years in a row, but this was the first time his son was allowed to enter an adult race.
“He’s ranked nationally in his age group,” Snead said as he slowly pedaled his bike in place. “But now he’s built up enough points to qualify to race as an adult.”
Charlie said he began bicycle racing several years ago after he saw the Tour de France cycling race on television.
He added that while he liked how racing kept him in shape, his favorite part of racing was the mental aspect of it.
“It involves a lot of strategy,” Charlie said. “You have to be smart to race.”
In between vendors selling jewelry, gourds and exotic women’s clothing was a small stand full of homemade soaps, created by Sandra McLeroy of Heflin.
McLeroy, who makes and sells soaps every summer, said she started coming to the Anniston festival two years ago.
“I usually have good business,” McLeroy said.
She noted however that as of 2:23 p.m. Saturday, she had not moved as much soap as she would have liked.
“Business has not been too good, but it’s still early,” she said.
Teressa Watts, who is an assistant to Mike Poe, the festival’s organizer, said she was pleased with the turnout and the event’s continuing success throughout the years.
“A lot of hard work goes into this … many months of work,” Watts said.
To Watts and her husband Ricky, the best part of the festivities was watching the many cyclists race.
“The riders come from all over, that’s what is fascinating,” Ricky said. “There are riders here from Maine and some even from Australia. People are coming from far away to race in a little town.”
Contact staff writer Patrick McCreless at 256-235-3561.