MARSHALL - Hundreds of cyclists will be riding into Marshall in just about two months, and community members are working to roll out the red carpet for them.
Members of a local planning committee for the 2012 Tour de Kota bicycle event said they hope to make the participants' visit a chance for everyone to have a good time while showcasing the city.
"We hope it gives people a taste of Marshall," said Doug Goodmund, assistant director of Marshall Community Services and one of the planning committee members.
The Tour de Kota, an annual bike tour sponsored by the Argus Leader, will be making an overnight stop in Marshall on June 19. The full tour, which makes a 464-mile circle beginning and ending in Dell Rapids, S.D., will run from June 17 to June 22. It will be the first time the Tour de Kota includes a stop outside South Dakota, Goodmund said.
Marshall Public Schools Athletic Director and planning committee co-chairman Bruce Remme said local residents have been preparing for the tour since last fall, when the official 2012 Tour de Kota route was announced.
On Tuesday, June 19, cyclists on the Tour will be traveling about 98 miles from Brandon, S.D., to Marshall, coming into town from the south along Minnesota Highway 67.
On Wednesday, cyclists will begin a 95-mile leg of the tour, from Marshall to Watertown, S.D. Cyclists will travel along Minnesota Highway 19 and U.S. Highway 75 for much of that segment of the ride.
"I think they probably heard great things about Marshall," Goodmund said of the decision to route the Tour de Kota through town. "And it fits well in the circle they have planned."
Committee member Chad Kulla said surveys conducted by tour organizers showed an interest in Marshall as a potential stop, as well. Goodmund said the event could bring about 500 to 600 people to Marshall.
The cyclists will camp overnight at a temporary "tent city" at the Marshall Middle School, planning committee members said. The location puts riders within easy reach of restaurants, the Marshall Area YMCA, Marshall's downtown, and the 9/11 Memorial.
"This is a chance to showcase our community, showcase our restaurants, and showcase our downtown," Goodmund said.
Because the Tour de Kota changes its route each year, it's also more of a one-time opportunity, local organizers said.
To help show hospitality and make a good impression on visiting cyclists, event organizers and volunteers will also be staffiing a welcome tent and a bicycle rest stop, and a pasta bar and musical entertainment Tuesday evening at the Landmark Bistro and Landmark Mercantile building. The Mercantile will serve as central meeting place for riders and ride supporters, said Marshall Chamber of Commerce Director Cal Brink.
The festivities Tuesday night would also be open for local residents to attend, he said.
People or groups interested in volunteering should contact Remme, Tom Hoff or Kulla, committee members said.
More detailed information on the Tour de Kota, including routes and schedules, can be found online at www.tourdekota.com. Riders may register online to participate in the whole tour, or individual days. The deadline for pre-registration is May 29.