Royal Palm’s massive West Fest returns with fan favorites and new event

It’s time to bring out those cowboy boots and spurs: Royal Palm Beach’s popular celebration of all things western returns this year with a new activity designed to show off the village’s recreational offerings.

West Fest is expected to bring more than 25,000 people March 9-11 to Royal Palm Beach’s Commons Park. Along with live country music and carnival rides, there will be a bike trail rodeo on March 10.

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“Not a lot of people are aware that we have an abundance of bike trails in our village,” said Royal Palm community and cultural events superintendent Carlos Morales. “People can ride around the entire perimeter of the village on bike.”

Participants choose from three routes: a 3-mile ride around Commons Park, a 5-mile route that goes farther into the community and a 7-mile trek that leads riders around much of the south end of the village.

Morales suggests the 3-mile ride for beginners. “It’s an easy trail,” he said. “On bike it won’t take you very long.”

Don’t tackle the 7-mile ride unless you are a confident biker, Morales added. “It actually goes out on Southern Boulevard,” he said. “It’s a lot more advanced trail.”

The trails were completed the past several years in part using state and federal grants.

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Mayor Fred Pinto said the festival is perfectly timed to promote the village’s bike trails because March is Florida Bike Month.

“The real goal here is to get the citizens acquainted of our great bike trails,” he said.

Pinto has been asked to lead one of the rides, something he joked he will need practice for. “Hopefully it’s that easy one,” he said, laughing.

The fan-favorite Chili Cook-Off is Saturday and Sunday and the Miss and Mr. West Fest Pageant on Saturday morning. The chili competition is a sanctioned event and draws professional cooks, Morales said. But don’t worry, amateurs: You can sign up as well.

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Tree’s Wings will be on-site with beer and alcohol at its Swamp Bar, which features a large water tower with the restaurant’s logo. A small creek will trickle down from the water tower and children can play prospector and sift for gold, Morales said.

West Fest also will feature characters dressed in period clothing to show what it was like to live in a camp in the Old West. “They live in a tent and show how they would cook, how they would wash their clothes and how they would go about their day-to-day life,” Morales said.

This year’s musical acts include the Jupiter-based Tom Jackson Band on Friday night, a Tim McGraw tribute and Kenny Chesney tribute Saturday, and the Women of Country tribute and Garth Brooks tribute Sunday.

Attendees also can check out the Paul Bunyan International Lumberjack Show throughout the weekend. “It’s so much fun to watch,” Morales said. “They do wood chopping, saw cutting, pole climbing — it’s exciting.”

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