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Oct 10, 2015 in Featured, Press Releases, Tourism


IMBA Selects Bentonville to Host 2016 World Summit


BENTONVILLE, Ark. (Oct. 10, 2015) – The International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) announced today that its 2016 World Summit will be held November 10-12 next year in Bentonville.


At a news conference held this morning on the All-American Trail of the Razorback Regional Greenway, IMBA President and USA Executive Director Mike Van Abel said the city earned the right to host the biennial conference.


“Bentonville, specifically, and Northwest Arkansas, regionally, have shown a commitment to developing world-class mountain biking trails,” Van Abel said. “I look forward to introducing mountain bikers from around the world to the wonderful opportunities these trails provide. The moderate year-round climate of this region provides access to bikers any time they see fit.”


Adams said he expects as many as 800 people – registrants and industry representatives – to attend the 2016 conference in part because of its middle- America location.


Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson called the Arkansas mountain-biking trail system “one of the world’s best kept secrets.”


“As someone who enjoys our beautiful outdoors, I have always been impressed by the trails we have in our state, and now those trails will be showcased on an international stage,” Gov. Hutchinson said. “Arkansas is ready for the spotlight.”


Gov. Hutchinson said he’s looking forward to welcoming conference participants to next year’s summit, but is eagerly anticipating its lasting impact on economic development.


“The conference itself is important to Northwest Arkansas, and the state as a whole,” said Gov. Hutchinson. “But this is also an opportunity to solidify   Arkansas as a first-choice destination for bikers for years to come.”


The summit’s headquarters will be at 21c Museum Hotel in Bentonville, and will consist of educational programs on a variety of subjects ranging from safety to trail maintenance. There will be group rides and scheduled rides for participants on the region’s most scenic trails including, but not limited to, Mount Kessler, Slaughter Pen, Lake Atalanta, Lake Fayetteville, and Railyard Bike Park.


Kalene Griffith, president and CEO of Visit Bentonville, said that though Bentonville is acting as host for the conference, the entire region should reap the economic rewards, which Griffith conservatively estimated at $500,000.


“Participants will stay in our hotels and eat in our restaurants not just here but throughout Washington and Benton counties,” Griffith said.  “As we have proven time and again, when one city flourishes the entire region benefits.”


Mike Malone, president and CEO of the Northwest Arkansas Council, said IMBA’s selection of Bentonville for the 2016 World Summit serves as a validation of the decades of work throughout the region to enhance quality of life.


“Our region has built a growing and impressive trail system that is now being recognized by mountain biking enthusiasts all over the world,” said Malone. “This will not only help us to attract visitors but it is also already helping attract talent to live and work in Northwest Arkansas.”


IMBA also announced today that it has received a $275,000 grant from the Walton Family Foundation to help provide professional maintenance of the state’s five designated IMBA Epic Trails, accounting for almost 200 miles of mountain biking trails. Arkansas will become the only state to utilize full-time professional crews.


Those trails comprise Ouachita National Recreation Trail, which stretches between Highway 88 west of Mena to Scenic Highway 7 north of Hot Springs; Womble Trail winding through the Ouachita National Forest; Lovit Trail, which runs south of Lake Ouachita; Syllamo Trail, located outside of Mountain View; and, Upper Buffalo Trail, which is a challenging course through Ozark National Forest.


Van Abel said this is an example of Arkansas’ desire to be an elite locale for mountain biking enthusiasts.


“In most cases, trail maintenance is performed by volunteers who do an outstanding job,” said Van Abel. “But having a professional team whose sole focus is the maintenance and beautification of the trails is important as we work to make Arkansas a premier destination.”


Arkansas’ five IMBA Epic Trails places the state tied with Colorado for the second most designations behind California, which has seven.  Gov. Hutchinson says it sends a clear message.


“We are well positioned to be a leader in mountain biking,” he said. “Our trails offer the challenge and thrills that mountain bikers crave, and will keep people coming back again and again.”


For more information on the IMBA 2016 World Summit, log on to




About the International Mountain Biking Association

The International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) is a 501(c)3 non-profit educational association. IMBA’S mission is to create, enhance and preserve great mountain biking experiences. Since 1988, IMBA has been bringing out the best in mountain biking by encouraging low-impact riding, volunteer trail work participation, cooperation among different trail user groups, grassroots advocacy and innovative trail management solutions. IMBA's staff, chapters, clubs and members work to benefit the entire mountain bike community. Learn more by visiting or


About Visit Bentonville

Since its establishment in 1996, tourists have found their way in ever increasing numbers to Bentonville. Visit Bentonville is governed by the Advertising and Promotion Commission and funded by a nominal tax on lodging, dining and meeting facilities. Its goal is to invite the world to come to know the community, a small town with a rich heritage that perfectly complements the energy of the world's largest retailer. For more information, go to


About the Walton Family Foundation

The Walton Family Foundation focuses on addressing social and environmental issues by giving in three distinct areas: K-12 education, freshwater and marine conservation, and quality of life initiatives in the foundation’s home region. In 2014, the Walton Family Foundation invested more than $375 million in domestic and international projects. To learn more, visit, and join the conversation on Twitter and Facebook.



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