The month of August brings one of Flint’s premier events, the HAP Crim Festival of Races, which is always held on the third weekend of the month (this year on August 23-25) bringing thousands of runners, fitness enthusiasts, families and spectators to Downtown Flint from all over the world.
This year, the theme is “Come Home to the Crim,” according to Race Director, Andrew Younger, with the concept that Crim Week is Flint and Genesee County’s Homecoming Week. “The idea is that we know thousands of people come to Flint to participate in the Crim,” says Younger, “and many of those folks are from the area, but no longer live here. The ‘homecoming’ concept acknowledges what’s already been happening in Flint for years and welcomes people back to the city, and it establishes the Crim as a destination race, with more than just a great race experience to offer participants.
Many people choose the Crim weekend as the time to make an annual trip back home or as an opportunity to hold a family reunion, reports the race director. “We want the tens of thousands of people who come from out of town to do more than just run their race, celebrate a little on the Festival Lot, and then head back home,” Younger shares. “We want them to experience and enjoy all the great things the area has to offer before and after their race: food, sports, music and other entertainment.”
Younger feels the event is the perfect opportunity to highlight Flint’s continued rejuvenation. “Downtown is transforming before our eyes – we are a great destination,” he adds. “This is bigger than the Crim. We want to make it a true celebration.”
According to Younger, about 7,000-8,000 people participate in the Crim Festival of Races and a significant number of them bring friends, families and supporters with them. “It’s an opportunity for Flint and Genesee County to put its best foot forward,” he states.
“The ‘homecoming’ concept acknowledges what’s already been happening in Flint for years and welcomes people back to the city.”
Andy Younger, Race Director
The Flint and Genesee Convention & Visitors Bureau had been hosting a homecoming event geared toward businesses for the last couple of years during the Back to the Bricks event, Younger explains. This year, the Bureau has partnered with the Crim to hold the homecoming event during Crim Week. The Bureau put together a travel website to help visitors find things to do. “Our vision is to help people who are here for the Crim have a great race experience, and a memorable Flint experience, as well,” says Younger.
One element of the Crim that has grown this year is the Crim Campus Challenge, in which participants have the opportunity to show their school pride. What started with just four schools – UM-Flint, Kettering University, Baker College and Mott Community College – has grown to include Central Michigan University, Oakland University, Wayne State University and Saginaw Valley State University. “It’s really exciting!” Younger exclaims. “The runners have their school logo on their race bibs, and a portion of the proceeds goes toward their chosen school’s scholarship fund.”
While the homecoming theme just started this year, Younger said it’s already growing. The Gridiron Classic, a series of high school football games played at Atwood Stadium, occurs the week before the Crim. Many people who come to the Crim may have attended one of the schools and will want to watch their alma mater play.
Brandon Morgan, Director of the Flint and Genesee Convention & Visitors Bureau, is excited about the partnership and promoting the homecoming theme, the area businesses and events that happen around Crim Week. According to Morgan, approximately 50 percent of those participating in the Crim Festival of Races are from outside of Genesee County, from different states and countries around the world.
On the Flint and Genesee CVB Web page, there is a wealth of info: where to stay, restaurants, businesses and what’s happening, including events such as the Gridiron Classic (visit flint and genesee.org/crim). “That’s a great event for expatriates to see,” he says. They are also working hard to showcase the positive side of Flint to the outside world. “We are not a city on the brink of destruction,” Morgan says. “We have so much to be proud of.” And according to him, the homecoming theme is already gaining some traction. “People are enthusiastic, and we are excited about our partnership with the Crim.”
Photo by Eric Dutro