When the Chipkas opened the Cycling Sports Center to Galion in October 2014, they were hoping to revitalize the small town community with their own brand of energy and enthusiasm for the sport.
The local bicycle shop owners decided to host a criterium, a one-day bicycle race on a circuit road course, in Uptown Galion on June 11.
The Galion CritFest would kick-off with a 5K and 10K run and free bicycle races for youth. With adult races (sanctioned by USA Cycling) to take place in the afternoon, the Chipkas anticipate about 300 to 500 riders and their families to mingle with the community through its sports-related vendors, local restaurants and business along Harding Way East.
“We’re trying to do it to better the town,” said owner Troy Chipka.
But despite reaching out through several “hundred emails” the event hasn’t gained traction with the local business community to contribute as sponsors, said Robert Chipka, Troy’s father.
“We’re hoping to pull it off,” he said. “The first year is always going to be rough.”
The Chipkas said they need to raise roughly $10,000 to pull off the high-quality event that they envision that day.
“The more sponsors we get, the better quality of an event we can get,” Troy said.
So far, the Chipkas have one sponsor — Pittsburgh-based GNC. Cycling Sports Center has also garnered just two local vendors.
The event could cancel from the lack of “business participation,” Robert said, but he wondered if it was mainly an awareness issue.
“I really don’t know if anybody knows about it,” he said. “We like to sit down and talk with businesses but we haven’t been approached.”
Joe Kleinknecht, president and chief executive officer of the Galion-Crestline Chamber of Commerce, said businesses often get “bombarded with requests” to become sponsors and often choose events they see getting the “most bang for their buck.”
“It’s just a personal decision,” he said.
Kleinknecht has provided chamber members about the CritFest and its request for sponsors, but added that the chamber doesn’t influence their decision one way or another.
“[But] I love to see it happen,” he said.
The Chamber is among the few that have supported the Galion CritFest. The Galion Historical Society has offered the vacant lot at the old middle school for parking during the festival.
And the city of Galion also offering its support.
“[The Chipkas] are finalizing the route and creating a list of road hazards for us,” city Communications Director Matt Echelberry said in an email. “From there, we’ll set up a meeting with the police chief and street [department] superintendent to go over the route, road closures and any other logistics.”
Mayor Tom O’Leary could not reached for further comment.
Reach Klein at 419-468-1117, ext. 2048 or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.