After two decades of cycling excitement, the Highland Rim Cycling Classic has been permanently canceled by event organizers.
“It was not an easy decision to make,” said Warren County Chamber of Commerce president Alicea Weddington. “It was an inevitable decision that had to be made, but it was not easy.”
McMinnville Public Works director Bill Brock, who has worked alongside the Chamber since the beginning, says discussions about ending it have taken place for three years.
The event was hindered both physically and financially, says Brock.
“Each year it seemed the rules and regulations were increased,” Brock said. “We needed more people than we had. We were trying to do more without more people and with less financially. It was wearing everybody out.”
Weddington says the event was indeed stressful for everyone involved.
“We put hours and hours and a lot of money into this race,” she said. “It wasn’t just thrown together in one day. We had to begin working on it months in advance. Anyone who has ever organized an event such as this understands how difficult it can be.”
The race suffered from lack of local sponsorship over the last few years, which Weddington says she understands.
“Businesses that sponsor an event like this want to see a direct return on their investment,” she said. “It was getting harder and harder to get sponsorship because they weren’t seeing a return on their money. The racers just weren’t spending money here.”
While the Highland Rim race has ended, the Chamber’s efforts to increase tourism in Warren County have not.
“We feel like all the time and volunteer hours would be better spent on something else,” said Weddington. “We decided we need to concentrate on something that has more of a positive impact in the community. We are discussing ideas, but we have nothing definite yet.”
Weddington says the Chamber greatly appreciates the community support it has received over the past 20 years and all the volunteers who worked tireless hours on the race.
“It’s just time to move on and try something else,” added Weddington. “We feel grateful for being able to offer the race for 20 years. That was a good run.”