Organizers hope event changes will make upcoming Tour de la Vallee the biggest yet

9 months ago

FORT KENT, Maine — The upcoming 33rd annual Tour de la Vallee on Saturday is expanding to offer routes for not just bikers, walkers and runners but ATVs and motorcycles as well, along with adding new activities.

Events will be centered at Fort Kent’s Riverside Park on 40 Dufour Street. Bicyclists and runners will depart at 8 a.m. Saturday while motorcycles and ATVs will leave at 9 a.m. Activities at the park will start at 11 a.m.

For the first time, the tour will feature a plethora of family-friendly activities such face painting and an obstacle course, in addition to onsite food vendors, a beer garden, live music and an e-bike raffle.

The tour will benefit the Edgar J. Paradis Cancer Fund. The fund, established in 1978, assists patients at Northern Maine Medical Center and their families if they need it. Staff at the Fort Kent hospital oversee the fund.

It’s named after late St. John Valley resident Guy Paradis, who had erythroleukemia. Paradis had to receive treatment for his illness in Portland and, because of the distance, he often felt alone and isolated from his friends and family. He willed start-up funding to help others in a similar situation afford travel and lodging to visit loved ones receiving treatment far away. 

The Tour de la Vallee was later established as an annual fundraising event to support the cancer fund. 

Vanesa Pelletier, a project manager at the hospital, said disappointing turnout during the past 10 years inspired organizers to revamp the event in hopes of attracting more participants through the family events and additional modes of travel.

As of Monday, about 35 people have registered in advance, she said. But more are likely to sign up on the day of the event. 

While the event typically attracts people from the St. John Valley, Pelletier said some registrations were from as far as Presque Isle and Easton, and that organizers hope to attract farther-flung attendees with the event changes.

“We don’t want people to think it’s just a pedal bike thing,” she said. “It’s an all-day event. You can walk, bike, ATV, motorcycle and, of course, just bring your family and have some fun. We want to include options for everybody.”

Anyone looking for more information or to register can do so through the Edgar J. Paradis Cancer Fund page on Facebook. 

“We’re hoping for a fantastic turnout, so we can keep it going and grow every year,” said Pelletier. “It’s helping a lot of the community members, and we just hope to see everybody there.”