Sparkles and feats of strength were on display in Kellogg Arena over the weekend of February 14th. It’s the 25th year of the Cereal City Classic. The event has been happening long enough that kids who once competed as gymnasts are back as coaches.
“We’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to see athletes grow into successful individuals,” said Cindy Scharns, owner of Branch Gymnastics and KidsSports USA. It’s Branch Gymnastics that organizes the competition.
Cereal City Classic has Kellogg Arena booked until 2025, and Scharns thinks the event will see another 25 years, even if she hopes to be retired by then.
On Friday, girls of all ages were everywhere. Thanks to the size of Kellogg Arena, a lot can happen at once. Gymnasts launched themselves into the air on the vault, while someone did a handstand on the beam, girls chalked up their hands for the bars and one athlete did flips as Blackpink’s “Boombayah” played over a speaker.
“It’s a lot of pieces to put together and takes a crew of about 200 to really be successful,” Scharns said.
Cereal City Classic is in the top three for highest earning sporting events in Battle Creek, according to a report from 2018.
There were 1,700 athletes from approximately 75 different clubs. It pulls in people from all over Michigan, as well as Indiana and Ohio. One couple at the snack stand had driven all the way from Cheboygan to see their granddaughter compete.
Gymnast Zoe Woods was checking out shirts at the souvenir vendor (she already had “Look like a beauty, train like a beast” for softball). Her hair glittered under the lights.
Zoe’s family travels with her to competitions and sometimes they’ll spend the night at a hotel if she has an early start.
“This is my first time here,” she said.
Zoe is from Canton, and she confessed the title “Cereal City Classic” seemed weird at first, until she found out about Battle Creek’s history and Kellogg World Headquarters. She thought that was cool.
To emphasize this unique claim to fame, the walls of Kellogg Arena were decorated with cereal boxes that were donated by Post and Kellogg’s, and the Calhoun County Visitors Bureau provided a backdrop for photos.
It was Branch Gymnastics that took care of the decorations.
“I am not creative, but I have one of the most outstanding staff in the world,” Scharns said. “They’re instrumental in making the event rock.”
It’s interactions with people that leave an impression on visitors. Scharns said she received many compliments about the event staff and how visitors were treated in the community. She also heard good things about local hotels, such as Holiday Inn and Courtyard Marriott.
It may seem like a small thing, but it’s a win for Battle Creek when an event brings in people from out of town, and they want to come back and stay in the same places again.
Cereal City Classic is the first of four gymnastic events happening at Kellogg Arena this year.