Tour de Kota to return to Vermillion in June 2011

Three years ago, Vermillion was the host city for the Tour de Kota. It will be the complete opposite this time around.On June 10, Vermillion will host the last overnight on the sixth annual Argus Leader Tour de Kota.

"It's a great opportunity for us to help showcase Southeast South Dakota," said Vermillion city manager John Prescott. "I remember a couple years ago we had the kick-off and it was a nice event, not just for the riders, but also for the community."

Vermillion was chosen for a reason as well — the University of South Dakota.Tour de Kota is following a theme this year, and it's a college theme.

The tour will start in Sioux Falls and end in Sioux Falls like it has every year, but this year the route will begin on Augustana College's campus.

The ending route will be in Brookings at South Dakota State. The next college will be Dakota State in Madison, and the riders will take off for Mitchell, the home of Dakota Wesleyan University.

From Mitchell, the bikers will ride to Freeman, which is the host town before Vermillion. After leaving Vermillion, the riders will go until they get to the University of Sioux Falls's campus.

In the end, Tour de Kota will span 430 miles.Kevin Brady is on the committee that will help plan for this year's Tour de Kota, and he has had participated in the event since the beginning.

"I've done all or part of it every year," Brady said. "The first year I did three days because I had just come off a week long tour, and last year I cut off a day because there was some pretty bad weather."

Last year, Brady said the tour had about 500 week-long riders, with 600-plus registered for a day or more.

So the event has grown since Vermillion hosted the event three years ago.

"I believe we had around the neighborhood of 450 week long riders and a few riding for that day," said Brady of how many riders were in Vermillion three years ago. "We are starting to get more week-long riders."

"A number of people think it will be fun to do it for a day or two as well," he added.The last time Vermillion hosted Tour de Kota, the town set up Barstow Park as the starting point and the town had a band play for the event, as well.

"Even though the event is almost seven months away, planning has already started for the event."

USD has 250 rooms in the dorms that they are setting aside," said Vermillion Area Chamber & Development executive director Steve Howe.

"We will also plan to make camping spots available, but we are not sure where yet. We are also looking into entertainment."

Howe added that USD and the city will be working in a joint effort to plan for the event.

VCDC Visitor and Tourism Coordinator Maureen Cashin said the event regularly hosts 800 to 1,000 people.

"The exposure is bigger than the past," she said. "We will welcome everyone in enthusiastically."

With more visitors to Vermillion than usual, Cashin said everyone in the city will be representing the community.

"Everyone will be an ambassador," she said. "Everyone can come up with a unique way to welcome them, from signs to marquees."

With the number of bikers expected for the tour, it will also have an impact on the businesses in the community.

"I anticipate it will help fill the motel rooms, and our restaurants noticed it a couple years ago," Prescott said. "It's great to have things like this to show off our tourism to the community."

The committee will be talking to other towns that hosted the Tour de Kota in the last couple of years to see what other impacts the event had on those communities.

"We need to look into problems we are not foreseeing, such as if we need more law enforcement," Howe said. "We are going to have to have backup shelters, and we need to do some contingency planning."

But Howe expects the event to go well for Vermillion.

"You never know what the day will be like, but we are going to show them what Vermillion has to offer," he said. "It should be a lot of fun."

For more information about the Tour de Kota, visit Brady's site at barkingdogcycling.org, or you can e-mail Brady at bikingbrady@gmail.com.

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