|Chico Palio kicks off Artoberfest Fall Events Schedule!|
Racing for art: Chico Palio kicks off Artoberfest
Article Launched: 09/30/2007 12:12:32 AM PDTThe most successful running pairs were in perfect sync. Others shuffled awkwardly, clinging to their clunky horse sculptures suspended between two dowels.
It was the Chico Palio, a signature kickoff event Saturday for Artoberfest modeled after the famed Siena Palio horse race in Italy, substituting people for horses.
The racers, stretching the width of Main Street, lurched forward in a mad dash to complete the one-lap footrace. Each pair of racers represented a Chico organization or neighborhood.
After the runners took off around City Plaza, spectators flooded into the raceway, amid cries to clear the street as the racers rounded the final turn at West Fifth and Main streets.
The winners were Efren Topete, 25, and Scott Dinits, 23, from the Boys and Girls Club of the North Valley who assembled their horse structure with the help of kids and staff within their organization.
"We utilized our resources: chicken wire, duct tape, mops and paint," Dinits said.
The pair pulled ahead after the second corner and were met with a wall of cheers at the finish line ahead of the second place racers representing the Northern California Natural History Museum, which captured the win last year.
"I felt like someone was going to give us the Gatorade cup like we were in a real race," Dinits said.
Every racer finished with an enthusiastic round of applause.
"It's what we hoped — that the people of Chico would come out and celebrate our identity," said Paul
Friedlander, chairman of the Chico Arts Commission.
Artoberfest director Debra Lucero said she plans to grow the event into a three-day festival with a larger palio that would include three different heats and incorporate more advanced forms of engineering.
"We want this to be the community event," she said.
A minor hitch in the palio's giddyap occurred before the start of the race when the streets circling City Plaza that made the racing loop were still open to traffic. By the scheduled start of the race at noon, confused event workers scrambled to direct traffic until police could take over so the palio could begin.
"I understand there was a (street closure) plan in place, it just wasn't implemented," said Dave Burkland, interim city manager, who confirmed event organizers had secured a permit for street closures.
Burkland and interim Assistant City Manager Dennis Beardsley couldn't specify why the streets were not closed as planned, but said the incident would be investigated Monday.
Other awards given out during Saturday's palio:
Best designed horse: Sisterhood of Creativity.
Best designed flag: Weston Thomson.