CINCINNATI — There are a lot of events that celebrate and promote the development of a neighborhood, but few are as unique, or as adventurous, as Danger Wheel in Pendleton.

After a year-long hiatus, Danger Wheel returns Saturday for its sixth year of downhill racing along 12th Street.

For those unfamiliar, picture a typical soapbox derby, only replace the cars with adult-sized Big Wheel bikes. Then, toss in costumes, water balloons and a two-block stretch of hilly roadway lined with straw bales and various obstacles.

Sixty-four teams will compete this year. They’ll race head-to-head and crash all day until one team earns the title “Danger Champion."

“After the COVID hiccup in 2020, Cincinnati’s Pendleton neighborhood is thrilled to see Danger Wheel back for its sixth year, tearing up the streets with some Wheely Big fun,” said Andrew Salzbrun, the event’s founder.

Races go from 2 p.m. until 7:30 p.m., but the event kicks off at noon.

Salzbrun said in 2019 about 8,000 people showed up throughout the day. He said “based upon pent-up demand,” they’re expecting a comparable turnout this weekend.

Those who plan to stay all day will have plenty of local restaurants to choose from — Pendalo Wingery, Lucius Q, Boomtown Biscuits and Whiskey and Nation Kitchen and Bar, which Salzburn owns. Expect plenty of local beers on tap as well, including some from Braxton Brewery, which has a taproom in the neighborhood.

"I can’t speak for each of those restaurants themselves, but I know, verbally, it’s their best day of the year for revenue," Salzbrun said.

This Saturday will look much different than the Saturdays looked like back in 2015 when Nation Kitchen and Bar opened. That's in no small part due to Danger Wheel.

Salzbrun said the event was born out of a desire to bring business into the neighborhood. He called it the “one more block of discovery” approach.

It's similar to the strategy used for BLINK, which Salzbrun’s other company, The Agar, helps produce.

"So, the idea is to get people to Pendleton, but then give them the space to explore, to look around, to sit in the space. We want them to see it as a place of opportunity,” he said.

Salzbrun and his team won’t take credit for all that success; they’ll note the success of Over-the-Rhine, the redevelopment of Ziegler Park and the Alumni Lofts as all playing major roles. But for many, Danger Wheel was their reason to make a trip to Pendleton. 

“What is really special to me… is when I hear someone say, 'I came for Danger Wheel and I saw Boomtown Biscuits or Lucious Q. I didn’t know those things were here,’” he said. "That is a regular occurrence now and it’s pretty awesome.” 

Salzbrun said the event costs about $100,000, but that's covered by beer sales and corporate partners like Fifth Third Bank. All proceeds from the event will go back into the neighborhood.

"Danger Wheel is committed to reinvesting into Pendleton, a growing neighborhood in our vibrant Queen City and we’re always proud to support our community,” said Timothy Elsbrock, President, Fifth Third Bank, Cincinnati Region.

The funds raised will pay for smaller projects that would not normally qualify for city funding, Salzbrun said. That includes things beautification projects, community cleanups, even the neighborhood's social media marketing.