More than 200 contestants from 13 different states are expected to compete in the first-ever Wildwood Games at Wildwood Park in Appling this weekend.
The sport festival is a combination of trail runs and bike races.
“We want to create a go-to type outdoor event,” said Randy DuTeau of the Convention & Visitors Bureau. “We see that the active lifestyle and active lifestyle sports events really have taken off around here.”
Organizers are hopeful the Wildwood Games bring a big buzz and economic boost to Columbia County.
“I think it’s pretty reasonable to think it’s going to have a pretty sizeable impact,” DuTeau said. “Not only during that weekend, when we bring in that critical mass, but also just by virtue of fact that people will be aware of the venues, they’re going to be aware of the trails.”
But the event almost didn’t happen at all.
The trails at Wildwood Park saw devastating damage during February’s ice storm and volunteers spent months cleaning the venue to get it ready for this weekend.
“Once they got the trails cleared and they said, ‘Okay, we can do this,’ then it was a matter of pulling everything together,” DuTeau said. “I think that by luxury of having a lot of time to put it together, I think that that’s going to help a lot.”
The event is a long time in the making, but officials say the benefit to Columbia County will be well worth the work — especially as it helps people discover Wildwood Park as a “hidden gem.”
“People think it’s so far away,” said DuTeau. “From downtown Augusta, it’s 20 minutes away, from downtown Evans its 12 minutes away. You don’t have to go far away to experience a great venue.”