Ride on

Photo courtesy Pine Needle Music and Mountain Bike Festival.

Pine Needle Music and Mountain Bike festival boasts another year of growth

With a little help from Mother Nature, the annual Pine Needle Music and Mountain Bike festival saw even bigger numbers this year than last, the previous best year on record.

The annual festival combines a daylong mountain bike relay through Little Red River Park with a kids’ wilderness race and a slate of concerts. All proceeds collected go back to Little Red.

“It was our biggest and most well-attended festival to date,” said organizer Mike Horn.

In total, 149 people rode in the six0hour mountain bike relay, and 87 kids ran in the wilderness run. In addition, there were six bands, bouncy castles and multiple food vendors, as well as “tons of people” who came out to listen to the music and enjoy the food.

“I had a lot of really good, positive feedback from people that have been there before, and they were commenting on how many more people there were over last year,” Horn said.

“Last year was a good year too, so they were all pretty excited.”

Food vendors were running out by the end of the day – a good problem to have, Horn said.

One reason for the event’s success was the cooperation of the weather.

“Friday and Saturday were a lot less desirable. Even Monday. We had this little sliver of sunshine in between. That helped,” Horn said.

“Mother Nature helped us too. It can make or break an outdoor event. If you have a cool, wet, rainy day you’re not going to get people out. They came out in droves. The bands were great, and the mountain bikers were riding hard and doing their best, we had good feedback from them too. “

Horn and the event’s other organizers are now looking through to see how much money they were able to raise. Early indications put that figure at about the $5,000 mark. That means, over the last eight years, the event has raised about $50,000 for Little Red River Park.

“As the festival grows, it gets tricky,” Horn said.

“Our revenue stream is from the registrations of the cyclists and our local sponsors. Without that, we don’t really have anything to donate, so the local sponsorship money is huge in helping cover the costs of running the event.”

To grow it, Horn said, they might have to push more for people to fundraise and collect pledges.

‘We’ve got to really put the emphasis on that because that really helps drive the money we can donate back into Little Red.”

With the strong turnout this year and last, Horn hopes to continue to put on the festival. Next year’s date — June 9, 2019 — has already been chosen.

“it’s hard to quit when there’s a lot of momentum and excitement around it,” he said.

While the funds that are raised are important, so is the experience, and the ability to show people all that Little Red can offer.

“That’s one of the reasons why we do this festival, to really put the spotlight on Little Red,” he said.

“We’re very fortunate to have this part. It’s not only about money, but also an awareness thing for the park. Getting that many people out enjoying and using it is, I think, probably almost more valuable than the money. We want to keep on doing that.”