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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

SpokeFest canceled after key people leave the organization

Before a backdrop of the lower Spokane Falls, hundreds of cyclists cross the Monroe Street Bridge above the Spokane River as they start a 21-mile ride for the 2017 SpokeFest.  (Jesse Tinsley/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
Before a backdrop of the lower Spokane Falls, hundreds of cyclists cross the Monroe Street Bridge above the Spokane River as they start a 21-mile ride for the 2017 SpokeFest. (Jesse Tinsley/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)
By Sidiq Moltafet The Spokesman-Review

Spokane’s largest bicycle event has been canceled after losing key volunteers in leadership positions, organizers announced Friday.

SpokeFest, a nonprofit organization promoting bicycling, has been holding an annual series of bike rides since 2008.

“SpokeFest is not happening in 2022. Our board is doing some intense problem-solving to see about having future events,” said Bill Bender, the SpokeFest Association president.

SpokeFest also had difficulty during the COVID-19 pandemic, and was canceled because of the health risk in 2020 and 2021.

The event has brought in a large number of participants from across the Pacific Northwest for 13 years. In 2019, over 1,000 riders registered to participate.

“Our goal is to provide the best event possible, and we have had some key people leave the organization,” Bender said. “Without those people we can’t provide the best event.”

The event cost organizers around $15,000 to host in 2019, and participants paid a $20 admission fee.

In 2019 the event started in Kendall Yards, and participants chose between three routes, a 50-mile ride, a 21-mile ride and the Spokane Falls 9-mile loop.

“I loved events like Bloomsday and Hoopfest,” Bender said. “I knew that Spokane needed an event that could bring together the bicycle community, and so I came up with SpokeFest.”

Some bicycle enthusiasts said they were saddened by the announcement.

“Definitely a bummer. We have always had a presence,” said Scott Willengalle, a manager at North Division Bicycle. “We would bring our tents and have a bike shop, and later on in the course we would ride out and help fix flat tires. But I understand the board’s decision, I know they want what is best.”

Randy Hendricks has participated in SpokeFest for the last decade.

“I hope this event happens next year,” Hendricks said. “SpokeFest connects the bicycle community, and it is something that everyone loves.”

The event’s future is uncertain, but Bender is enthusiastic about SpokeFest 2023.

“I am confident when the right people step forward to help the organization, we will hold the event again,” he said.

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