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Highlights- Bicycle races, Blues Traveler, Marionettes

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May 10-17

The Joe Martin Stage Race
The 30th annual Joe Martin Stage Race will be this Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The bicycle race is headquartered at The Cosmopolitan Hotel in downtown Fayetteville and offers a number of opportunities to see some of the world’s fastest men and women racers.

When the late Joe Martin began the Fayetteville Spring Classic cycle race in 1978, he probably didn’t realize that it would become one of the longest continually held races in the country. The race has become one of the premier events on the National Race Calendar. The NRC is the pro and elite amateur cycling tour of USA Cycling. The JMSR is only one of two events in Arkansas on the NRC. About 700 riders and 1,000 support personnel are expected to be in NWA for the three-day event.

Although the big day is Sunday, there are viewing opportunities on Friday and Saturday, too.

The races begin Friday and the finish line will be in front of Collier Drug on Dickson Street, which makes it the prime spot to cheer on the winners and all competitors as they cross the line. The Pro Women racers will start their 64-mile race in Cedarville and should reach the finish line around beginning at around 5 p.m. The Pro Men’s road race with the men racing 110 miles from Fayetteville to Mountainburg and back, should begin crossing the finish line about 6 p.m.

A road race will start at 8 a.m. Saturday at the University of Arkansas parking lot at 15th Street and Razorback Road. The finish line for the Saturday race will be at 15th Street and Razorback Road.  Racers are expected to cross the finish line between 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

Also on Saturday, an uphill time-trial from 2:30 to 8 p.m. will push some of the most qualified athletes, who will tackle the 2.5-mile climb out of Devil’s Den State Park.

On Sunday, just west of the Fayetteville Square in the parking lot on Church Street between Center and Mountain Streets, there will be a festival atmosphere with vendors booths and racers warming up for the criterium.

The criterium, will begin and end at the corner of Church and Center Streets. The Pro women will start at noon and the men will follow at 1:30. Vendors featuring food, outdoor productions, refreshments and demonstrations will be on the Square from 7:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Prizes will be given away to the public throughout the day.

Valentino Achak Deng

On Friday, Nightbird Books and the Fayetteville Public Library will host Valentino Achak Deng for a discussion of Deng’s efforts to aid his native Sudan and the book about him What is the What.

What Is the What, a 2006 National Book Critics Circle Award nominee, was written by Dave Eggers and is the novelized autobiography of Deng, from his pre-war life in Marial Bai, to his resettlement in the U.S. Deng was became a refugee in war-ravaged southern Sudan. His travels brought him in contact with enemy soldiers, liberation rebels, hyenas and lions, and disease and starvation as well as with the deadly murahaleen (militias on horseback).

There will be a reception and booksigning for Deng at 6 p.m. at Nightbird Books. He will then speak at the Fayetteville Public Library at 7 p.m.

Live Music
The big show in town this week is Blues Traveler tonight at George’s, which will also include a special acoustic performance by Mountain of Venus. But it’s not the only show to get out for this week. On Friday, George’s will be hosting a big triple header with Speakeasy, the Bel Airs and the Ryan Montbleau Band.

Those who followed the Great Unknown Festival—the sorely missed NWA outdoor fest—were first introduced to the Springfield, Mo. band, Speakeasy a few years back. The band continues to branch out, putting out original rock and jam and occasionally throwing in an unexpected cover or two.

The five-piece Boston-based Ryan Montbleau Band is a definite “must see.” Hot from New Orleans Jazz Fest, the band packs in over 600 fans at venues in their home territory. They are hitting this part of the country for the first time. Listen to a slow one and think John Mayer, switch to a fast one and put on your dancing shoes for some rock/funk/jam and think maybe a little Phish. George’s is closed for a wedding on Saturday—a musical couple we hear.

Wednesday night Atlanta hardcore outfit, The Chariot will hit The Music Hall in Fayetteville along with The Human Abstract, Misery Signals and I Hate Sally. The Chariot is known for their unpredictable live shows. The Human Abstract out of Los Angeles, a tech-metal quintet, recently released their debut album Nocturne. Music pub Metal Edge called Nocturne “an eerily gloomy masterpiece that brilliantly blends the ferocity of metal with the pedigree of orchestral music.”

One last musical note. Jammin’ Java near the Peace Fountain on the Town Center Plaza, adjacent to the Fayetteville Square has resumed their Saturday morning music during Farmers’ Market and is also hosting a live open bluegrass jam on Thursday nights.
Bring on the marionettes
Théâtre de l’Oeil of Canada will bring its marionette show, The Star Keeper, to the Walton Arts Center on Friday for a 7 p.m. show. The award-winning puppet show features finely chiseled puppets, an original screenplay and bewitching music that creates an epic fantasy for children of all ages. The Star Keeper is a story without words that incorporates visual poetry, music and fantasy designed to capture the imagination. Tickets are $8 to $15.

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