Extreme sports fans need to look no further than downtown Wendell this weekend to experience some of the best the BMX world has to offer.
The Greenville-based ProTown BMX stunt team plans to bring its demonstration to Main Street for the second straight year, with two shows set for noon and 3 p.m. Saturday, March 19. The free event will also be an opportunity for fans to meet four renowned riders and get their autographs, and for children to ride and receive instruction from the pros.
Wendell Parks and Recreation Director Jeff Polaski rolled the idea over from similar shows he hosted when he was the recreation director in Farmville. He had developed relationships with the pro BMXers in nearby Greenville, the so-called BMX capital of the world.
“I just feel in a lot of recreation departments so much emphasis is put on ball sports, a lot of time the kids not interested in ball aren’t given a fair share,” Polaski said. “My intent was to offer something for that group. A lot of kids are watching X Games on ESPN now and getting interested in extreme sports.”
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Four ProTown BMX bikers are slated to perform Saturday including founder and ESPN Amateur champion Mike Mancuso, who has ridden in 25 countries and every major U.S. city through the Vans Warped Tour, Gravity Games, AST Dew Tour, and X Games USA, New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia, and Dubai, among others.
Expected to join Mancuso are riders Keith Schmidt, Dan Foley and Alex Johann.
“Keith (Schmidt) is incredible – he’s one of the young up-and-comers,” Polaski said. “Dan Foley is signing some strong sponsorships right now and is listed as one of the top new breed of Greenville riders.”
Both Foley and Schmidt, who served as a stunt double for the 2015 movie “Max,” participated in last year’s demo in Wendell, which saw estimated crowds of 200-250 people per show. Johann, who is known for going big on the jumps, missed out on last year’s event in Wendell because of an injury.
ProTown BMX brings in a large jump box and a quarter pipe for the demo, and smaller ramps that will be used on the side for a free riding clinic.
Mancuso will serve as a narrator, offering an inspirational message to youngsters and calling attention to the importance of safety gear in extreme sports.
After the first, 30-minute trick show, the pros will pause for an autograph session. The parks and recreation department purchased ProTown BMX posters that attendees can have autographed, along with whatever BMX-related gear they bring.
The riding clinic will follow, splitting children into groups of five and allowing them to cruise through several skills stations. The demo will conclude with the second, 30-minute show, following a break for lunch.
Polaski has previously said his intention in bringing the stunt team to town is to show there is a local interest in extreme sports. An extreme park for bikers and skaters is something he hopes the town can pursue in the future by way of a state Parks and Recreation Trust Fund grant, the same revenue source funding various upgrades currently underway at Wendell Park.
“It’s in future plans,” Polaski said. “Having these (ProTown BMX) guys in the cell phone is a great thing, because Mike has said he’d be interesting in helping design a park. It may be something in a future PARTF (grant) we write later once this one settles out.”
Brown Bag Bagels and A Taste of Home food trucks and a Chick-fil-A booth will be on site Saturday to feed observers. A rain date for the event is set for March 26.