32 years, that’s how long the BMX Midwest National Tournament has called Rockford home.
And Jake Karau, an organizer for the race has been around for every one of them.
"I’ve watched little boys and little girls grow into men and women," Karau says.
Eventually some bring their kids back to the Searls BMX Track in Rockford. This year, that same tournament is expected to bring in 4,000 people from all across the globe.
"It is quite amazing how large this sport has become," he says.
It’s events like this that the Rockford Area Visitors and Convention Bureau tries to capitalize on. That’s because sports tourism brings in about $13 million to the Rockford area each year. The RACVB expects the BMX Midwest National Tournament to make up about a quarter million of that amount.
"We have great facilities, great places, we have great hotels," Andrea Cook, with the RACVB says. "We do a great job working collectively together to bring these tournaments to Rockford. Once they’re here, the visitors understand what we do to make their experience so much more unique and very authentic."
Those facilities and authentic experience are just a couple of the reasons why some say the BMX tournament keeps coming back to Rockford.
"They have learned to trust and have confidence in our presentation and the kind of event that we’re going to put on and that helps them fight the weather and get in the car and come anyway," Karau says.
Organizers at Searls BMX Park say it will stay open every Sunday from now through October.