Event offering prizes for exploring what the Great Miami River offers starts this weekend

A regional event along a 99-mile stretch of the Great Miami River that organizers promise will bring fun and prizes will launch Saturday at MetroParks’ River Center, at the Bicentennial Commons in Middletown.

A program called “Tour de Way,” organized by the Great Miami Riverway, will register people who visit 10 cities up and down the river, from Sidney, all the way downriver to Hamilton, for the possibility of winning prizes, including the world’s first “shoal tent,” a floating tent, which sells for $2,000, as well as a high-end bicycle.

The more places someone visits, the more chances to win that person has. If competitors take a photo and use the hashtag #RiverwayGiveaway, they get double points at that location.

It’s not a race, emphasizes Elizabeth Connor of the Great Miami Riverway project, who notes the program will run from Saturday until March 1, 2020. The idea behind the project is to have people explore cities and locations along the Great Miami River, which advocates are working to convert into more of a tourist attraction.

Other participating cities along the river are Piqua, Troy, Dayton, West Carrollton, Miamisburg, Franklin and Middletown. To sign up for the program, go to www.greatmiamiriverway.com and click on the Tour de Way box.

“It starts Saturday at RiverCon,” with a rain location is at Forest Hills Country Club, Connor said.

RiverCon will run from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. Because the event is happening on May 4, which Star Wars fans have claimed for their day because of the phrase “May the Force be With You,” Connor said, “We’ll be doing a Star Wars-costumed bike parade and 5K walk or run on the (bike) trail.”

Other RiverCon events will include Jedi Yoga, Storm Trooper Bowling, and, “all sorts of different outdoor activities, highlighting different vendors from around the region,” she said. “And it’ll be the first location that you can get one of your Passport locations for Tour de Way.”

Although costumes are not required for RiverCon, they are encouraged.

MetroParks’ River Center at Bicentennial Commons is located at 120 S. Carmody Blvd. The rain location will be the indoor turf field of Forest Hills Country Club at 791 4th Ave.

Participation in Tour de Way is free, and after people register, “they’ll start getting monthly emails from us that tell them tips and tricks. For example, in May there are bonus locations that can help you win over $3,000 in prizes,” Connor said.

Each month will have bonus places like that, she said: “They can be at an event, like RiverCon, or they can be something like a dedication — in Sidney, there will be an inclusive playground dedication that’s going to have a pop-up QR code.”

The floating tent is manufactured by SmithFly, which is located in Troy

“If you miss RiverCon, don’t worry about it,” she said. “You can come to anything.”

The first time people scan in a QR code, if they haven’t already signed up, there will be a prompt to do so, “and then, every time after that, you’ll just have to log into your account, and it’ll automatically go right into your account.”

There will be monthly prizes, such as a $200 gift card to shops in downtown Middletown or a biplane ride in Troy, she said: “There’s a variety of prizes.”

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