Tour de Yorkshire celebrations in Ripon - Reaction from residents and visitors
Ripon people don't do things by halves - our city's pulled out all the stops to welcome the Tour de Yorkshire cyclists today, with an enviously ambitious programme of free family entertainment.
Every inch of the Market Square has been utilised to deliver the Tour extravaganza - covered with fairground rides, a live music stage, an artisan market with more than 50 traders, a climbing wall, and a Punch and Judy theatre, to list just a few of the attractions.
Yorkshire flags were waved furiously as the women's race zoomed by residents in a flash earlier today - but Ripon's strong sense of community spirit lingered, with all the events and activities setting a shining example of what can be achieved when people pull together.
Hazel Barker, who was a coordinator of the Ripon Community Poppy Project last year, was in amongst the crowds lining the streets to watch the women's race. She said it was overwhelming to see the massive support for Ripon's Armistice commemorations last year, and is delighted to see public support and enthusiasm continuing for events like the Tour de Yorkshire.
Also soaking up the carnival atmosphere was a group from Ripon Community Link - David Foster and Bev Brooks-Sykes, with members Dean, Marc, Adrian and Richard, who all said they were savouring the live music and entertainment. They certainly stepped up to embrace the spirit of the occasion, too - armed with Yorkshire flags and big smiles.
David said: "It's great to get out into the the community and experience something like this with everyone else. The atmosphere is really building now."
Dressed in her cycling gear, city resident Joy Fletcher said her plan was to watch the women's race go through, then go cycling herself and come back to watch the men's race later on.
She said: "I'm looking forward to seeing the riders - we are very lucky to have the Tour coming through Ripon. It's great for the community."
"Putting Ripon on the map" - How the Tour de Yorkshire showcases all that our city has to offer
Whether you like the Tour or not, Sheila Webb, who was manning Ripon's Tourist Information Centre earlier today, told the 'Gazette that the event has undoubtedly created a buzz, and increased footfall to the city.
She said: "There has been a lot of enquiries and interest from residents and visitors in the build-up to the Tour de Yorkshire in Ripon - people wanting to know the best vantage points, what's going on in the Market Square, and which roads will be closed.
"We've also had people coming in wanting to buy flags and pin badges. I think it's been a great effort, having something on all day - not just the stalls, but the entertainment, the tribute acts and the fireworks finale. There's lots going on between the races.
"Some people will have come just for the race, and will only be interested in that - but for some visitors, it's been a good opportunity for us at the tourist information centre to sell them Ripon's wider offer, and talk to them about other attractions and places they might like to visit."
Volunteers from Ripon's three museums turned out in force to speak to visitors in the Market Square about the city's rich history and what it has to offer - donning authentic period clothing, they used the Tour as a platform to encourage return visits, for newcomers to come back and uncover the full charm of the city beyond cycling events.
Ripon Museum Trust's learning and outreach manager, Carrie Philip, said: "I think it is wonderful to have the Tour de Yorkshire coming through Ripon, as one of the places that is the beating heart of Yorkshire.
"It's great seeing everything focused on the market place, as it's such an amazing focal point for Ripon, and it brings the community together. I am excited about being able to talk to new people who might not not be museum-goers, making them aware of the history of Ripon, and hopefully making them interested enough to come back after today."
With a Yorkshire flag draped around her shoulders like a cape, and carrying other decorative items especially for the occasion, visitor Carol McLean said she wouldn't want to watch the Tour anywhere else, and described Ripon as her city of choice.
She said: "People know how to party here - the Tour is good for the city, and it's good for the economy."
Glen Gennery, who had a day off work to enjoy the celebrations, said: "I think it's good for Ripon, and it's really exciting to see the cyclists coming through and trying to recognise them - although they pass by in a flash. It's a big event that can put Ripon on the map."
Reaction from Ripon's Tour de Yorkshire event organisers
Ripon City Council organised Ripon's Tour de Yorkshire celebrations, and the chair of the organising committee, Coun Andrew Williams, said today's packed programme is only a taster of what's to come in September when the 'Olympics of cycling' - the UCI Road World Championships - comes through Ripon.
Coun Williams said: "I am hoping that today is an advertisement for what Ripon has to offer, as a city that's a jewel in Yorkshire's crown. This is very much a dry rehearsal for the UCI, where we will put on an even bigger show."
The Mayor of Ripon, Coun Pauline McHardy, said: "I think certainly from the success of Yorkshire Day last year, we have proved that we can provide big events for Ripon, and I am terrifically excited about today too. Everybody involved has worked so hard to organise this. Events like this boost our city and its businesses.
"But we have to build on this and continue this success, we can't let it go. I just think it's great to see Ripon being kept in the spotlight - Ripon's got an awful lot to offer tourists, and I hope the Tour de Yorkshire today whets people's appetite to look around our museums, the Cathedral, Newby Hall, and places like Fountains Abbey. Ripon really has everything, and we should sell ourselves to a wider audience."
Sally Anne Close, a resident who turned out to support the celebrations in the Square today, said: "Credit where credit is due, Ripon City Council has done a great job utilising the whole of the market place - the artisan market is a great idea, and I really hope that Riponians come out and support it."