Organizers of the Hope Ride have something new up their sleeves for Saturday’s milestone 30th anniversary event.

The inaugural Moos & Blues Music Festival on the Hope Town Square will await bike riders and anyone else up for a good time. The free, six-hour festival will feature six blues acts.

Barbecued pork prepared by Jeff Yarnell, as well as strawberry shortcake desserts provided by Main Street of Hope, will be available from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., event founder and organizer Paul Ashbrook said.

“You will not lose weight during the Hope Ride,” Ashbrook guaranteed in typical, tongue-in-cheek style.

The concert is the latest in a series of added attractions that have transformed a bicycle ride into a day-long jubilee in the northeast Bartholomew County community.

Several different styles of music are now played by musicians at various rest stops during the bicycle ride itself. Other popular Hope Ride features include the pre-ride FunBunch Pancake Breakfast at Hauser Jr.-Sr. High School, a lunch on the town square and the celebratory root beer floats for ride finishers.

Philanthropic fun

The event has attracted 40,000 bicycle riders and raised more than $500,000 to help food pantries and youth outreach programs during its first 30 years.

In the beginning, the Hope Ride was part of a fundraising drive to establish an endowment for the Hope Food Bank. But as the event grew, organizers found themselves in the enviable position of being able to support other causes, Ashbrook said.

Besides a variety of regional food banks, the Hope Ride now benefits other causes such as the Hope Summer Playground, Hauser Future Jets Basketball, Hauser’s Dollars for Scholars program, rural fire departments, the Hope Police Reserves, area scouting troops and local 4-H clubs, Ashbrook said.

In announcing route additions for the 30th anniversary ride, Ashbbook jokingly boasted the Hope Ride will now offer “more Shelby County than you would ever need!”

But the event organizer got just serious enough to assure riders that Hope Ride favorites such as the Mennonite homesteads, Simmons’ Winery/450 North Brewing Co., Red Dog’s Petting Zoo and Anderson Falls Park remain on the route. With windmills, old iron bridges, rustic barns and historic landmarks, the rural beauty found along the routes has contributed greatly to the growing success of the event.

Marketing fun

The Mad Magazine-inspired humor from Ashbrook and Hope graphic artist Rhett Whittington has played a part in making the Hope Ride stand out from competing long-distance bicycle rides throughout the Midwest.

In order to emphasize the new blues festival, the two have brought their popular illustrated bovines, the Moos Brothers, back to center stage to promote this year’s milestone event.

The characters are a parody of the blues and soul revivalist band, the Blues Brothers, that first appeared in a televised “Saturday Night Live” sketch in 1978.

The Moos Brothers — as well as the Mount Rushmore parody “Mt. Rushmoo” — have been top sellers in Hope Ride merchandise such as T-shirts, coffee mugs and posters, Ashbrook said.

Whittington’s illustrated Beatles parody for last year’s ride, “Sgt. Heifer’s Lonely Hearts Club’s Band,” commemorated the state’s bicentennial by utilizing faces of famous Hoosiers.

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.