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Hayward businesses feel impacts of spectator-less Birkie

HAYWARD, WI-- Sunday marked the final day of a very different American Birkebeiner race in Hayward.

While many participants took place virtually, Hayward businesses felt the impacts of a spectator-less race.

A quieter Birkie weekend in Hayward has come to an end.

"It's definitely been different. Does not even feel like a Birkie this year," said Tim Metropulos, owner of T&T Bar and Grill in Hayward.

Although some still made the weekend stop in Hayward, business owners say the safety decision will have a lasting impact.

"It affects us a lot. I'll be honest with you. This is one of the biggest weekends, if not the biggest weekend, for us a year, and it really helps in the winter for us," said Metropulos.

Tim Swift of Riverbrook Bike and Ski says they have also lost Birkie business but have been able to make it up in other ways during the year.

"Our numbers are definitely down this week, but overall with COVID, people are getting outside, and we are running out of products. So even if we had the people, we might not have the product to sell," said Swift.

For the people that did stop by, Swift says they were able to spread out across the city and just thankful to take part.

"The positives is that we can do this sport at all. It's outside, it's a socially distanced activity, and I think that has been the number one thing why families have gotten into this sport," said Swift.

In the end, both businesses are looking forward to next year and hoping for a bit more normalcy for the winter tradition.

"It's just business as usual is the way we got to look at it. We just have to keep plugging away," said Metropulos.

Natalie Grant

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