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1,000 cyclists expected for BRAG

Businesses have a big opportunity to cash in on tourism



     For the first time in nearly 10 years, over 1,000 cyclists will roll into Jasper as part of the Bicycle Ride Across Georgia (BRAG), a popular event now in its 39th year. 

But these riders won’t just wave as they pass through on their way to another town, they’ll stay overnight the night of Monday, June 4. The Chamber of Commerce is doing all it can to roll out the red carpet with special events, but businesses are strongly encouraged to make plans and take advantage of the crowds.     

“We want to make sure the community gets as large of a return as we can get,” said Pickens County Chamber of Commerce Director Gerry Nechvatal, “and want to make sure the business community gets a direct and positive impact.” 

The bulk of cyclists are expected to arrive in town that Monday between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Their route takes them into downtown Jasper from North Main Street, down to the home base at Lee Newton Park.

“The last time Jasper was on the route, the home base was at the [Pickens County Community Center, which is kind of isolated.” Nechvatal said. “This year, I wanted to have it in a location that’s closer to our businesses.”  

There will be music for participants at Lee Newton Park, but the Chamber is hosting an event on Main Street both participants and the public are invited to attend. The event will include a Welcome to Jasper area at Main Street and Stegall Street, a DJ, live music, and two food trucks. 

“A crowd of 1,000 people is a lot,” Nechvatal said. “The food trucks will help supplement the restaurants. We’d like to thank Jasper Coca-Cola, our local Gold Sponsor, and Renasant Bank for making this possible.” 

The last time BRAG was in town, a now defunct downtown restaurant that never drew crowds had an hour wait. The Chamber has encouraged restaurants that are usually closed on Monday to open for the night and take advantage of the crowd. 

Working with the Boys & Girls Club, the Chamber has organized bus shuttles from home base at Lee Newton Park so visitors can eat, drink, and shop in the community. Shuttles will run from 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. and will be open to riders only. 

The Chamber’s visitor center (located in building at Lee Newton Park) will be open until 9 p.m. where cyclists can find information about Jasper and Pickens County. There will also be a manned information table. Businesses can put promotional items to hand out to riders on this table at no charge, but are also invited to become a sponsor. Additional sponsorship opportunities are available starting at $250, which would get a businesses’ banner hung at base camp and announcements from the live DJ. Call the Chamber for more details. 

Riders head out Tuesday morning around 7 a.m. with a city of Jasper Police escort by way of West Church Street to Burnt Mountain Road. A cash and carry breakfast will be provided by Bojangles. 

“This is a tremendous opportunity,” Nechvatal said. “There is going to be an influx of 1,000 people, all who will be eating and drinking. It’s a great opportunity for local businesses, and a chance for us all to make a good impression so they will talk about what fun they had when they were in Jasper and have them or friends stop back though.”

The 2018 BRAG route runs from Rome to Hartwell Georgia and takes place June 2 – June 9.