The Saris Gala – The Biggest Bash in Cycling
Over a decade ago, a group of bicycling enthusiasts came together to brainstorm a way to drum-up support for better bicycling in our great state of Wisconsin. Knowing that the Bike Fed is instrumental in driving key cycling initiatives across the state, an idea for a fundraiser was hatched. Among this group was Saris founder, Chris Fortune, who lives by the saying, "if not us, then who?"
Chris stepped up, opened the doors to the Saris manufacturing facility to the group and some friends, and the Saris Gala was born. What began in 2004 as a pizza and beer party with about 50 attendees has grown to an event with guest lists topping 700 names. Each and every name has helped the Saris Gala become the biggest single-night cycling fundraiser in the country, with total, all-time donations adding up to well over $1 million.
There's something about the Saris Gala keeps guest returning year after year. Certainly the formula has changed over the years – pizza has been swapped for more elaborate food, craft cocktails have been added to the beer offerings, the silent auction prizes are more special and unique, and the special guests that headline the event have become more famous.
In other ways, the formula has stayed exactly the same. Upon a closer look, the success of the Gala has nothing to do with the fundamentals of the party. It's not the food, nor the beer, nor the auction prizes that make the event a must-attend on the calendar each fall. It's the people.
As the Saris Gala started to catch fire and expand, lasting memories have been made. So much so that the Saris Gala has its own lore. From the number of times Phil Liggett has taken the stage to talk about his Suitcase of Courage to elaborate costumes to margarita blenders on bike trainers to wedding engagements to Gary Fisher's signature mustache – all these memories and more are carried by returning attendees and shared with newcomers as the Gala continues to grow.
The Gala exists because of the strong support that comes from each and every attendee. They show up and show their support, checkbooks in hand, ready to rekindle old friendships and make new ones with other like-minded bike advocates. They listen to the funding request and answer loudly and proudly that they want to support the Bike Fed. At its roots, the Saris Gala is a fantastic party and everyone who attends is promised a great time, all in the name of being around other bike people.
We hope you'll join us in attending the largest single-night fundraiser for bike advocacy in the United States. It occurs every year right here in Madison, Wisconsin.We'll see you at the Gala!
Learn more at wisconsinbikefed.org/events/saris-gala.