Mountainfest to bring plethora of bikers and strong entertainment to Morgantown

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CLARKSBURG — The ever-popular Mountainfest Motorcycle Rally is set to begin again Thursday in Morgantown.

Many locals are excited, chief among them Harrison County Commissioner Ron Watson, who was once a police officer on motorcycle patrol in Washington, D.C.

“I’ve been to a couple Mountainfests,” he said. “They have a venue now with Bocephus coming, and I’m sure that will attract lots more appeal than normal because of Hank Williams Jr.’s reputation.”

Indeed, Hank Jr. is one of the major highlights, along with a strong group of performers that includes Vietnam-era band War, the Davisson Brothers and much more.

The rally itself begins at 9 a.m. Wednesday, when riders who registered to camp overnight can check in and set up until 9 p.m. Musical events begin Thursday, and the festival runs through next Sunday.

Bruce Nielsen, a salesman at B&B Harley-Davidson in Nutter Fort and a long-time rider, speculated that he’s been to at least 10 iterations of Mountainfest.

“It’s a big attraction,” he said. “Anything that can bring that volume of people to the area and bring that kind of money to the area. We don’t see it as much here, but don’t get me wrong, we get our service and we sell a lot of T-shirts during that time.”

Nielsen also said that a rally such as this one appeals strongly to locals.

“West Virginians, we love to be outdoors. That’s just the nature of anybody that lives here,” he said. “The biking community, though, they’re always looking for something to do.”

And he agreed with Watson in noting the strong pull likely to be caused by the appearance of Williams Jr.

“That’s big-time,” he said. “When you can pull somebody like that into a venue like that, people want to see entertainment like that. They’ve had some good years and some bad years, and with the different styles of entertainment they have, I guess they have to try to cover all the bases there.”

Mountainfest, which will see performances at Triple S Harley-Davidson, Coal Bucket Saloon and the main venue at Mylan Park, has made itself a household name for the state’s riders, Watson said.

“This event for West Virginia is sort of like the Ride to the Wall is in D.C. during Memorial Day,” he said. “I think a lot of times, some people who don’t understand the riders get an image of outlaws, when you really have lots and lots of professionals — from doctors to lawyers and others, that are riders.”

Watson also recalled his time at the first Mountainfest, in which he said the parade was kicked off by then-Governor Joe Manchin.

“It was well attended,” he said, “and I think every year it continues to get better.”

The parade, which this year will begin at 1 p.m. near the WVU Coliseum, will be led by recently retired Mountaineer basketball assistant Billy Hahn, and it tends to draw an impressive number of riders to the streets of Morgantown.

“I’ve done the parade also,” Nielsen said. “It’s pretty cool downtown there. They close off the street. The first time I did it, I was really surprised at the turnout. There were thousands of people in downtown Morgantown to watch the parade.”

“It really is good for the community,” Nielsen added.

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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