By BRYAN GASKINS Kokomo Tribune
---- — The Haynes-Apperson Sports Festival is quickly approaching and director Dana Neer is fired up.
“We think once again the Haynes-Apperson Festival as a whole, in particular the sports festival, offers a wonderful wellness opportunity for a community our size,” Neer said. “Between 3,000 and 3,200 participants will be in the sports festival. That’s a nice percentage of people in our community who come out and participate in the activities.
“Wellness events like this are gaining in popularity all across the country. I’m glad we have this. It’s now 31 years.”
The bulk of the events are scheduled for the Fourth of July weekend. The pre-registration deadline is Thursday. Participants can register the day of events, but only those who pre-register are guaranteed T-shirts.
Neer noted the sports festival has its usual events such as the kids track meet, 3-on-3 basketball, free-throw contest, golf, karate, men’s and women’s slowpitch softball, and the 4-mile run, 1-mile walk and 1-mile fun run.
“Those are all high-participation events,” he said.
Neer hopes people also consider some newer events. In particular, he is excited about the Battle of the Gyms.
“I thought about having a Battle of the Gyms for a couple of years now,” he said. “Missy Sutton from Missy’s Fitness has collaborated with the other gyms in the area and we have some strength and endurance competitions. Teams can form within the gyms in the area and there can be multiple teams from each gym. They will go out and compete. There will be a traveling trophy and of course pride on the line.”
Neer also likes the pull-up contest, which is set for its second year. The Kokomo Flipsters will host that competition.
“We’re hoping that area gymnasts and wrestlers and just fitness-oriented people will come out and take part in that,” he said.
Neer pointed to the bike rides another option worth considering.
“We have new leadership in the 74-mile bike ride,” he said, emphasizing it’s a ride, not a race. “We also have a 7.4-mile family ride which is great for kids or maybe older people who don’t want to go 74 miles.”
The sports festival swings into action this weekend with the sand volleyball and tennis tournaments.
All other events are scheduled for the Fourth of July weekend. There are pole vault and 100-meter dash competitions and a cornhole tournament in addition to the aforementioned events.
Neer noted his appreciation of Kokomo Schools and the Kokomo Family YMCA. Kokomo Schools allows the use of Memorial Gym and also the Wildkat tennis courts while the YMCA has stepped up to run the 3-on-3 basketball and free-throw contest this year.
“We’re so thankful for our partnerships and our sponsors,” he said.