Conscious party: Tour de Fat

FIRST THINGS FIRST: After recently celebrating its first year in Asheville, New Belgium Brewing will host the inaugural local iteration of Fat Tire's Tour de Fat. Organizer Sam Sawyer calls the outdoor event "so much more than a typical concert," since a troupe of circus acts and "wandering weirdos and performers" add to the interactive entertainment.
FIRST THINGS FIRST: After recently celebrating its first year in Asheville, New Belgium Brewing will host the inaugural local iteration of Fat Tire's Tour de Fat. Organizer Sam Sawyer calls the outdoor event "so much more than a typical concert," since a troupe of circus acts and "wandering weirdos and performers" add to the interactive entertainment. Photo courtesy of New Belgium Brewing

WHAT: A circus-themed concert, featuring Third Eye Blind and Ian Ridenhour

WHERE: New Belgium Brewing

WHEN: Saturday, May 20, 4-9 p.m.

WHY: Fat Tire’s Tour de Fat is coming of age. What was previously a free day of entertainment in about 10 cities has, in its 18th season, ballooned into a ticketed, 33-stop tour that kicks off in Asheville. Beyond big-name musicians, each iteration brings a procession of circus performers, vaudeville acts, magicians, comedians — and plenty of the beer that started it all.

“Fat Tire’s story is that it was born on a bike,” says Sam Sawyer, who oversees the tour. “The inspiration for what would eventually become the New Belgium we know today comes from this bike trip that inspired the beer, which pretty much pays all of our bills. We’re celebrating that beer really deliberately this year and trying to get as many people as possible re-engaged with that American craft beer icon.”

Fittingly, Asheville on Bikes will benefit from the local debut of Tour de Fat, which partners with a different cause at each location. While bike-related charities have historically been selected, Sawyer says the event is beginning to support a wider variety of organizations, depending on the host town’s needs.

Local input via a Battle of the Bands also determines each city’s opening act. In Asheville, teen musician Ian Ridenhour earned a performance slot before headliner Third Eye Blind.

Tour de Fat attendees are part of the spectacle, too, since everyone is encouraged to arrive in costume and partake in activities like the slow ride, an anti-race where the goal is to bike past the finish last and without touching the ground. Plus, the whole crowd becomes one giant dance competition between sets. “Our host hand selects people to move on to the next rounds, and the final couple of people dance off onstage in front of thousands of people,” Sawyer says, noting that the winner gets a New Belgium cruiser bike. “This is very much an interactive show.”

Visit newbelgium.com/events/tour-de-fat/city/asheville for more information or to purchase tickets ($25). AOB will receive a flat donation from the event.

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About Kat McReynolds
Kat studied entrepreneurship and music business at the University of Miami and earned her MBA at Appalachian State University. Follow me @katmAVL

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