By Gerhard Schneibel

gerhard@reporternewspapers.net

Sandy Springs will host 300 or more runners, amateur and professional bicycle racers, and an arts festival May 3 on Sandy Springs Circle near CityWalk. The more people who participate in the all-day event, the better it will be, said Dist. 2 Councilwoman Dianne Fries.

The race day is one of several upcoming community events. Art Sandy Springs’ ArtSSpring events begin April 18 with a music and dance evening at Broadway Grill and Cabaret, and Heritage Sandy Springs’ Wind Down Wednesdays concert series at Heritage Green began April 15 with the 1980s-style hair band White Leppard Crue.

The bike race and run are on “an early spring morning,” Fries said. “Come out and enjoy a vigorous 5K run or a challenging bicycle ride, and when you’re through with that, hang around so you can enjoy the art festival and trackside dining and watch the pro races throughout the day.”

The professional bike racers will participate in a circuit that starts in Athens and stops in Roswell and Sandy Springs en route to South Carolina. Race fans can see them ride a 0.6-mile course around Sandy Springs Circle, Hilderbrand Drive, Bluestone Road and CityWalk.

“It’s just lighting speed around this .6-mile course, and they ride it for about 45 minutes straight. They come around about every two minutes, and it’s just this gush of wind,” Fries said. “You don’t need to be a bike enthusiast to come and enjoy the art festival and the bike races. It’s a family activity, and there’s something for everybody to do.”

Amateurs can participate in a 5K run that starts at 7:30 a.m. and is a qualifier for the 3:15 p.m. Mayor’s Mile, which has a $1,500 purse. Police officers and firefighters will be racing and selling hot dogs to raise money for their departments.

Another amateur option for the day is a 62-mile bike ride through metro Atlanta, starting in Sandy Springs and going through Vinings to South Fulton and Six Flags.

Lining Sandy Springs Circle will be about 25 booths selling art and handcrafted items.

Patrick Dennis of Sandy Springs, who operates the Atlanta Foundation for Art in Public Spaces, said the market will be a “lovely event, and the folks that are going to be there will definitely have things that are really unique.”

The May 3 plans do have critics, however. Patti Pennington, the owner of Belles Choses at CityWalk, has complained to Fries about the disruption caused by the race arrangements and the lost parking for the day. She said events such as the bike race, the Taste of Sandy Springs and the Sandy Springs Festival have not brought her a single customer.

The bike event falls in the middle of ArtSSpring, which will continue through May 17 with more than 30 events ranging from art exhibitions to concerts, dances, plays and dinners. The full calendar is available at www.artsandysprings.org.

Peggy Allen of Art Sandy Springs said the events provide local residents “some cultural activities to do in this month. … It gives everyone a chance to go do something to make daily life a little more interesting.”

Wind Down Wednesdays this year are every other week through May 27 and are geared toward young professionals. Admission to each concert is $5 and includes a drink ticket.

Andrea Mickelson of Heritage Sandy Springs said the concert series is “a little different than I think most people are used to.”

“It’s sort of like an open-air happy hour and networking event, where we want people to just come and relax and meet their peers and new people,” she said. “We wanted to give the community something for this age group.”