This weekend the Fat Tire Festival will be held across Eureka Springs as a way for riders of all levels to join with a dedicated community of mountain bikers in competition, celebration, and overall badassery.
Chalked full of both intense trail riding and leisurely events for the public, the festival will run a total of three days, Friday, July 17th through Sunday, July 19th. Spectators and competitors alike are welcome to crowd the lively, festivity filled parks and streets of Eureka Springs all weekend.
Races will take place around the Lake Leatherwood City Park and through downtown, both along main roads and back alleys. “Eureka Springs has so many ungroomed, hidden slivers of single-track,” said AROutdoors.com about the downtown.
When the festival says all are welcome, it’s true—Fatty Fest really does have something for everyone. Most of the races are spectator friendly, there’s kids activities and competitions throughout, and there’s always nightly after parties to reward all involved for a day well done.
“The race grows every year,” explained mountain biker Tandie Bailey, one of Fayettechill’s sponsored athletes. “And for good reason—Lake Leatherwood trails are techy and tough. You definitely earn the beers.”
This year will be Bailey’s third year of competition in the festival. She will be battling in the Downhill Duo Omni, a combined-time competition of the Downhill and Super D courses (a cross over trek for racers that enjoy cross country and downhill racing).
“Fatty Fest is unique in that it provides an opportunity for all types of riders to compete,” said Bailey.
Apart from downhill racing, other competitive events include a 10-22 mile (depending on your class) “race to the lake” cross country trek, which, according to riders is one of the “techiest” cross country races of the season. The entire event will kick off with the short track event, a spectator friendly competition designed for fast racers with good handling skills.
Fayettechill’s other sponsored mountain biker, Dustin Slaughter says the event offers him a chance to connect with essentially everyone he’s ridden with and met throughout his years of mountain bike competition. This will be his fifth year of competition in the Downhill race run.
While, from an outsider’s perspective, an event of this caliber may seem to be the complete opposite of “chill,” Bailey says the toughness of the routes creates a huge vibe of respect and camaraderie between competitors. “The atmosphere is such that the racers are stoked, but not weirdly intense about their competitions and fellow competitors. We’ve all got stories to share about some magic that’s happened on the dirt, and that’s probably why we can’t stay away from Fatty Fest,” she said.
Mountain bikers are both tough and humble, making the Fayettechill crew a perfect fit as one of the event sponsors. “We’re so thankful for the support FC brings to the Ozarks and especially for the support they lend to the groups that upkeep our mountain biking trails. The trails don’t just build and maintain themselves—it takes a dedicated army of volunteers and a crew like FC to back those volunteers,” says Bailey. This is the third year of sponsored support from Fayettechill.
Not an avid mountain biking competitor? No worries. Anyone interested will have a chance to explore the “secret” routes of Eureka during the non-competitive “Big Town Ride” on Saturday. Led around town by locals, this is yet another offering that truly makes the Fatty Fest one of a kind.
For a full listing of times and events, check out the Fat Tire Festival’s website. And if you do make it down for the event, be sure to send extra love and cheer to Tandie and Dustin as they push their limits in one of the South's most noteworthy mountain biking events.
Photos provided by Layers Photography