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Many have asked why on earth the Stage Race would continue to be held over the Labor Day Weekend. The decision to hold the race after the local destruction was not made lightly. The organizer reached out to many in the community who encouraged him to keep the race, but alter the course to avoid damaged areas as much as possible.
1. Jason Gulisano, owner of the Green Cup in Waitsfield said it best: “Just because a few businesses are closed doesn’t mean the rest of the businesses have to suffer.” We need visitors like craft fair attendees, golfers, weddings, and bicycle racers to come and spend their money so our local economy can continue. Our economic situation is strained as it is and we, as a community, need this spending. The race receives significant public relations which will help the the word out to the greater area that the entire state of Vermont was not devastated, and that Fall Foliage visitors should still plan to come for autumn. Consecutive days of national and international flood coverage focusing on Vermont has had a huge negative impact on the state already reeling from Irene.
2. The race brings over 800 people to the Valley, many of whom stay 3-4 nights at local inns, eat out, fill gas tanks, buy from the Farmers’ Market, and spend much needed funds in the Valley.
3. At racer check in, the race organizers had an extensive display of photos of the destruction with a recommendation to give generously to the Community Fund. A large jar was full of cash and checks by mid morning on Friday.
4. The Race Course was altered significantly to minimize impact to the local community so that on Friday bikes are(were) in Waitsfield on East Warren Rd for time trials, one single bike at a time – not in a group. When reports were received at 11am that bikes were riding 3-4 wide through Waitsfield, a sheriff was dispatched to Tremblay Rd to inform riders they must ride single file, and my observation at the Wait House indicated they rode single file at that point.
Saturday’s race is moving to The Champlain Valley, and Sunday’s race started s Mt. Ellen early Sunday morning, thru Waitsfield to Duxbury, then the backside of the river to Rt 2, and onto Huntington, Hinesburg and to the Rt 17 finish. Monday’s race is in Burlington.
We appreciate the struggle and stress that Irene has caused, and the additional frustration the bicycles may cause travelers. We thank you for your patience as we all work to getting back on our collective feet as soon as possible.
MRV Chamber of Commerce