Days of thunder: Thousands attend Great River Freedom Rally at Scott City motorcycle dealership

Rhett Giordano, known by fans as “Rhett Rotten,” performs a show Sunday on the Wall of Death at Lawless Harley-Davidson in Scott City.

BEN MATTHEWS

The echoes of motorcycle exhaust pipes reverberated across the area this weekend as thousands attended Lawless Harley-Davidson’s fourth annual Great River Freedom Rally.

Stunt rider Rhett Rotten, named Rhett Giordano, performed six shows a day at the Scott City dealership on the Wall of Death — a vintage motorcycle stunt show he has performed in for 20 years.

For Giordano, the highlight of the weekend came when he met a Vietnam veteran named Terry.

“He’s 80 years old, and he hasn’t been able to let a clutch out on a motorcycle or be on two wheels in over 25 years,” Giordano said. “I was able to get him up on motorcycle on the stage and have him ride the rollers safely.”

Lawless Harley-Davidson owner and event coordinator Daniel “Mad Man Dan” Ryan said while the weekend was centered around bikers, it’s an event for everyone.

Steven McGee poses next to his bike Sunday at Lawless Harley-Davidson in Scott City. McGee served in Vietnam in 1969 and 1970 with the United States Marine Corps.

BEN MATTHEWS

He said he hopes the rally can be hosted near the Cape Girardeau riverfront in the future to give the community an economic boost.

“It’s something we think could last forever,” Ryan said. “Bikers aren’t a bunch of gun-slinging lawbreakers. At the end of the day, these are doctors and lawyers and businessman and farmers that all decide to get on their favorite toy and go out for a ride. They spend a lot of money, and we should keep the money here.”

The four-day motorcycle rally and music festival raised money for the Boys and Girls Club. It mostly took place at Lawless Harley-Davidson, with musical performances each night.

The music festival began Thursday night with local talent, featuring John D. Hale and Friends along with Harder Than Your Husband, formerly Powder Mill, performing at the main stage.

Friday’s attractions included performances that included Alabama country-rap artists The Lacs; Nashville country artist Jared Blake, who appeared on the first season of NBC’s “The Voice”; AC/DC tribute band Big Gun and local band Swamp Whiskey.

The band Isabella performs a show Sunday at Lawless Harley-Davidson in Scott City.

BEN MATTHEWS

The Freedom Rally made its way to downtown Cape Girardeau on Saturday, with co-sponsored events at The Library Playground, Mixing 10, Hotshots and Minglewood Brewery.

Hordes of Harley-Davidson motorcycles, also called “hogs,” began lining the street outside Grass Roots BMW in Cape Girardeau at 1 p.m. as motorcyclists geared up for the weekend’s big ride.

Despite last year’s rainy weather, riders in the 2016 Great River Freedom Rally set a record for most motorcycles to cross the Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge with 276 bikers.

On Saturday, the record was broken.

Nearly 500 bikers, led by a police escort, made on their roaring round-trip ride over the Mississippi River at 4 p.m.

The night concluded back at Lawless Harley-Davidson with performances from country star Mark Chesnutt, who debuted his new song “Hot,” as well as local band Tone Def All-Stars.

The weekend concluded with music by Eliminator KC, Steve Ewing of The Urge, Isabella and Danetta Mason Band and a fireworks show.

bmatthews@semissourian.com

(573) 388-3652

Pertinent addresses:

2100 E. Outer Road, Scott City, MO 63780

28 S. Spanish St., Cape Girardeau, MO 63703

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Craig Ballantyne

I love anything to do with Harley Davidson and have two beautiful children and a beautiful partner. In my spare time i like building websites and love anything to do with the internet.

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