The Noble Street Festival is not only one of the premier events in Calhoun County. It ranks among the top yearly tourist attractions in the state of Alabama, with the Sunny King Criterium drawing competitors from across the globe to compete in a day-long series of cycling races. This year, Anniston, Alabama is the second location of the 10-race series, preceded by Athens, Georgia, and followed by other notable cities like Indianapolis, St. Louis, Tulsa, Salt Lake City, Tulsa, and even Chicago. It’s needless to say that this event is the pride and joy of Anniston, and the Model City works hard to ensure that it’s an enjoyable, family-friendly occasion, with activities for children, great food, and stellar entertainment. The 21st Annual Noble Street Festival will take place on Saturday May 6, 2023 on the famed Noble Street in the heart of Anniston from 11 am – 7 pm.
The Sunny King Criterium Turns Us “On” To The Races
The Sunny King Criterium draws top competition cyclists from across the globe to compete in one of the best cycling competitions in the Southeast. Past competitors have come from countries as far away as Australia, South Africa, Venezuela, Argentina, Great Britain, Colombia, Italy, and Canada. The race offers professional, masters, and amateur categories for men, women, and junior divisions. Rewards include medals, cash prizes ranging from $300 to $1000, and the Grand Prizes in the Men’s and Women’s Pro Races of a whopping $10,000.
The bike course follows a large loop of 0.7 miles, beginning on Noble St. & 11th St., heading up Wilmer Ave., then left to 12th St., left on Moore Ave., and another left back to 11th St. Various races range from the men’s pro race requiring 60 laps around the course, to timed races lasting 45 minutes, 35 minutes, etc. The races will be called by professional sports commentators Brad Sohner and Lauren Hall. In-person attendance to watch the races live is highly encouraged, but the events have been viewed by the thousands via livestream, and can be seen this year from 12 noon – 9 pm cst. Assistance in commentary will be offered by Chad Andrews, a stage commentator and cycling sports analyst.
Youth can participate as well in the annual Children’s Bike Race and Mad Dash foot race, hosted by the YMCA of Calhoun County. The Mad Dash will begin at 4:45 pm, with children 12 and under competing for ribbons/medals. Immediately following, the Bicycle Race will allow kids to take part in a bike race as long as they bring their own bikes and helmets. The course for both of these will include one lap of the main cycling course (0.7 mi) or a block down Noble St. Parents can sign their kids up for an entry fee of $10 at the Classic on Noble from 11 am – 4 pm.
For 21 years, the annual race has been organized and sponsored by the Sunny King Auto Group (circa 1922) which is comprised of Sunny King Ford, Sunny King Honda, and Sunny King Toyota. By selling advertising in the official Noble Street Festival Guide, they raise funds to donate to Interfaith Ministries of Calhoun County, supporting the annual budget for their Meals on Wheels program, which provides hot lunches to disabled community residents who can’t leave their homes to shop for groceries or struggle to prepare meals for themselves. Proceeds also go to the American Cancer Society Relay for Life Chapter of Calhoun County to support cancer patients and fund cancer research. In all, the Sunny King Criterium has raised over $200,000 for these causes since its inception.
Fun For All at the Noble Street Fest
There’s more than cycling to enjoy at the Noble Street Festival, which offers great food, vendors, entertainment, and fun events for kids all day long. It draws crowds that have grown from 8,500 to over 10,000 in just the past two years, causing the downtown event to bulge at the seams. As festival coordinator Karla Eden shared, “Every year the festival grows larger and larger, so we’ve had to extend our footprint this year by connecting to Wilmer Avenue, where we will have a ‘Mini Foodtruck Festival.’” The area will feature food trucks and picnic tables where folks can sit and enjoy their meals while having a terrific view of the racers that pass by on 11th Street. Some of the food vendors slated to sell their delicious recipes to festival attendees include: Healthy Bowls, Waffle Stop, Brix N Stix Wood Fired Pizzas, Kin Express, Taco Tuesdays, Kona Ice, Called Coffee, and Little Lemon Lemonades.
This food area will connect to the Sunny King Kid Zone situated on 10th St. between Noble and Wilmer. This area will house FREE inflatables for jumping and sliding, and inflatable obstacle courses. Big Sam the Balloon Man will be available to create fun balloon scultptures for kids, as well as a professional face painter and Whit’z Kids. Children can also snack on popcorn, cotton candy, and snow cones for only $1 per item.
The festival generally hosts 50+ vendors in all, many of which sell arts & crafts and other items up and down Noble St. between 9th and 11th St., where the start and finish line for the races sits. Spectators will find animal displays hosted by Red Bird Willow Farm and the Anniston Museum and Gardens. The Anniston Museum will also be presenting an animal show at 11 am on the Music Stage situated at the 900 block in front of Effinas Tuscan Grill Anniston and Rack and Roll Billiards. Music entertainment runs from 11:30 am to 7 pm. The schedule is as follows:
Live Animal Show with Anniston Museums and Gardens
1pm – 2:30pm
3pm – 4:30pm
5pm – 7pm
Hunter Chastain (full band)
Another favorite presence at the Noble Street Festival for several years now is the Wounded Warrior Way, sponsored by Combat Park and Wounded Warrior Alabama. They will set up multiple military vehicles on 10th St. between Noble St.and Atlanta Ave. for children to climb on, adults to check out, and for photo ops.
As you can see, there’s something for everyone at the 21st Noble Street Festival in Anniston, Alabama. To get more detailed information on the festival, or to become a vendor, contact Main Street Anniston (M-F) at 256-231-7633, or visit: www.NobleStreetFestival.com.