The Bicycle Ride Across Georgia (BRAG) will come through Pickens County on June 4-5 with 1,200 riders, many with families, spending the Monday night here.
This is the 33rd Annual BRAG. This year riders will start in Fort Oglethorpe and travel to Dalton on Sunday. On Monday, June 4, they will ride 50 miles from Dalton to Jasper. On Tuesday they will continue from here another 50 miles to Roswell. BRAG ends this year on June 9 in Tiger, Ga.
For their stay in Pickens, the county is providing lodging for the riders at the new Community Center at Roper Park with camping in Roper Park. BRAG will pay for this to put money directly back into the recreation program.
The Chamber of Commerce is arranging events the night of June 4 to see that the community makes a good impression with the visitors.
Denise Duncan, chamber executive president, said past BRAG events have created strong retail and dinning days. “The hotels will definitely all be full and we’ll have to send some people out of the county for lodging,” she said. “The restaurants and retail places should all do very well.”
The last time BRAG came through Jasper, there were lines with long waits at all restaurants in downtown Jasper.
Duncan said the sheriff’s office has agreed to provide shuttles for riders who will stay at Roper Park to go to different spots in the community.
Duncan encourages businesses and the community to take advantage of having so many people in town to make a good impression so they will come back to Pickens.
“We want to show them what we have to offer so they will come back again when BRAG is over to ride here again or just to visit,” she said. Many families will travel along with riders or meet them along the route and this is where a lot of the economic potential comes from.
The chamber is planning activities now and welcomes businesses to get involved. She said they are looking at some type of music event on Main Street and possibly some events at Roper Park as well. Duncan encouraged businesses to stay open later that Monday to take advantage of the visitors.
BRAG gives an award each year to the best host city and Duncan said she hopes to see Jasper win this, which would give Pickens County a big image boost across the state for people planning future vacations or day trips.
Anyone interested in helping with the activities or discussing ways their business can get involved, should call the chamber at 706-692-5600.