Organizers of this year’s Ironman race in Frankfort are watching the skies for a bit of wet weather on Sunday. But downtown businesses are watching the traffic and what it could mean for the bottom line.
Frankfort, Michigan has a population of 1,246, but this weekend there will be 2,000 athletes there. Plus the anticipation of thousands of spectators.
“I like seeing the people and I like seeing the exposure of Frankfort. JoAnn Holwerda is the Mayor of Frankfort. She volunteers at the event and loves seeing people from all over the country in her community. “It’s exposing Frankfort for the gem that we have here…. They had no idea we were here, so our secret is out.”
Momentum Store Manager Gloria Borton says, “We are really gearing up for the race this weekend. A lot of people are coming into town. We have a lot of product, we’re hoping to get a lot of customers.” She adds, “I think it’s a good thing for the town. It brings a lot of customers here. Just a lot of excitement, a lot of fun. Makes for another fun weekend.”
The “momentum” that’s built up all summer long, continues for an extra weekend in Frankfort, rain or shine. “We have new umbrellas, new raincoats, so that might come in handy this year. We’ve got some new blankets. Just a lot of new product,” Borton says.
Because this is the second year for Ironman in Frankfort, downtown businesses say they have a little better idea of what to expect. They’re hoping to make this race weekend a great one for every Ironman, Ironwoman, plus family, friends, and spectators. Joey Barcheski is the owner of FrankZ. “I think the first year is super hard to plan an event of this size and have everything run perfectly. I think the big thing is getting staff to work in the morning because so many things are blocked off. But they planned a lot better for that this year,” he says.
“The weekend is good for the community. It’s hit or miss for some of the restaurants because the participants aren’t always ready to eat a lot. But it sure does bring a lot of people to town,” Barcheski says. “Sunday after the race we’re quite busy. During the race, not so much but after the race you get that after-the-race rush, which is nice.”
Benzie Bus is ready to offer free shuttle rides again this year. Executive Director Jessica Carland says, “If you’re familiar with Frankfort it’s quite small. Parking is hard to come by. But we’ve got some satellite parking lots set up, our drivers will be driving around picking people up … we’ll get them as close to the starting line as we can.”
Benzie Bus provided about 2,000 shuttle rides last year, and expects to do even more this year. “It definitely brings excitement to the end of the summer season in Frankfort. And Benzie County as a whole. I think Honor and Beulah and Benzonia, and the other towns, Thompsonville, are all experiencing increased visitors,” she says.
If you want to be one of them, the advice is to show up early, and take that free shuttle bus.
For course routes, parking maps, and shuttle info, . You can also download the free (which is available for iPhone or Android) for real-time traffic updates during the Ironman race.
For information on the Ironman race itself, .
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