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PHOTOS: Tour de Fat Bike Fest a Mix of 'Hipster and Circus and Vaudeville'

By Alisa Hauser | July 13, 2013 5:00pm | Updated on July 13, 2013 7:09pm
	Tour de Fat drew huge crowds to Logan Square's Palmer Square park Saturday.
Tour de Fat July 13, 2013
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LOGAN SQUARE — New Belgium Brewery's Tour de Fat bike parade and festival landed in Logan Square Saturday, bringing plenty of "bikes, beers and bemusement" for a sixth consecutive year.

By mid-day Saturday the New Belgium beer had already started to flow as a few thousand bicyclists — about a third decked out in full or partial costume — made their way back into Logan Square's Palmer Square Park after a five-mile jaunt through Logan Square and Humboldt Park.

Organizer Alex Wilson estimated about 6,000 people would attend the fest by day's end. 

Wilson said his favorite part of the fest is "all the money raised for West Town bikes." 

To that end, organizers tweeted later in the day that the fest had raised $35,000, about $9,000 more than last year.

Wearing butterfly wings, a straw hat and Harry Potter-esque black glasses, Wilson said he encouraged people to come out in costume for the outdoor festival sponsored by New Belgium brewery.

Headquartered at 2459 W. Division St. in Humboldt Park,  West Town Bikes is a nonprofit organization that promotes bicycle riding across the city by providing affordable bikes to under-served communities. It also has youth programs such as Earn a Bike, which allows kids to learn bike mechanics by helping fix up bikes until they put in enough shop time to build their own bike for free.

While the majority of Tour de Fat revelers were locals, at least one came from as far as Virginia for the fest.

Amanda Tamminga, 32, said she planned her vacation around the festival, after discovering it "by accident" last summer while visiting her sister Elizabeth Murphy, 44, a Logan Square resident.

Both Tamminga and Murphy were decked out in bright costumes with jester-style hats on their heads, ballerina tutus around their waists and Mardi Gras style beads around their necks.

While Tamminga usually travels by plane to Chicago from her home in Middleburg, Va., she said she drove by car so she could bring her bike along and join the parade.

Chandler Greer, a Logan Square resident, was drinking water but joked that beer is her favorite part of the Tour de Fat. 

Greer participated in the bike parade along with her two preschoolers, who were sitting in a trailer hitched to her bike while her one-year-old daughter sat in a bike seat on Greer's bike.

"We stopped about halfway through [the parade] because my smallest one was getting fussy," Chandler said.

Sarah Esling 40, of Logan square, said she went to the Tour de Fat two years ago but Saturday was her first time biking with her eight-year-old son in the parade. Esling stopped at the halfway point, and also had a two-year-old son riding along on her front handlebar.

Jack Peach was one of few folks that did not travel by bike to Palmer Square park.

Peach, who lives a short walk away, came with his one-year-old son to check out the fest.

"It's family friendly and a mish-mosh of hipster and circus and vaudeville, just very alive. The people who put it together are extremely creative and thoughtful," Peach said.

In addition to the parade, the day long festival includes a wedding ceremony in which someone will divorce his or her car and "marry" a bike, and a full music line-up with performances by punk rock marching band Mucca Pazza, comedian Reggie Watts and other vaudevillian style entertainers.

The Chicago stop was the fifth stop on a 12 city tour, with Minneapolis scheduled for July 27, according to the Tour de Fat website.