How do local businesses prepare for Labor Day weekend without a bike rally?
This isn’t the first time the organized motorcycle rally in Ignacio has fallen by the wayside, to be replaced quickly by events pulled together in a short amount of time.
The same thing happened in 2008 when the owner of the old Four Corners rally in Ignacio announced he was pulling out in May, and the Ignacio Chamber of Commerce stepped in to provide bands, vendors and beer tents in downtown Ignacio. The chamber ran Ignacio Bike Week until 2014, then sold it to Johnny Valdez, who changed the name back to Four Corners Motorcyle Rally and ran it for two more years.
This is the third year the Rusty Shovel Saloon is hosting events in Vallecito, partnering this year with Sky Ute Casino in Ignacio and Durango Harley-Davidson. Events at the bar and restaurant started last weekend, and the turnout was “awesome,” said Rob Wilson, who owns the business with Karen Klingman. The number of visitors already surpassed last year’s total for the week.
They changed the name of their event this year from Vallecito Lake Rally to Vallecito Bike Week.
A bike week features seven or more days of events, while a rally typically lasts three days, Wilson said.
“I think it might be busier when there isn’t a rally,” he said of local business.
He supports the new rally efforts by Trevor Bird, the new owner of Durango Harley-Davidson, but he also thinks the biker community should quit criticizing the old rally and Valdez.
“We need to move on,” he said. “It didn’t work out.” He also gave Valdez kudos for keeping the rally going for a few more years.
“To bring something back is hard,” he said.
The bar is hosting a poker run on Friday and will have live music by LuAnn Reeder. Saturday’s events include biker games, followed by a customer appreciation day on Sunday with a free barbecue lunch and music by Dave Mensch.
The Greenery, a Durango marijuana dispensary, is giving away hats and T-shirts to anyone who plays the saloon’s beer pong game for $ 5, and proceeds benefit Operation Second Chance, which provides retreats in Colorado for veterans and their families. The dispensary isn’t selling product in Vallecito, added Klingman.
Sky Ute Casino will host vendors and events all weekend, including a free outdoor concert from 4 to 10 p.m. Saturday by local Tyller Gummersall, who has performed in Nashville and toured around the country. Also performing will be Rockslide and the High Rollers. Sunday’s concert from 4 to 11 p.m. features 1000 Rogues, Power Tribe, 9 Electric, and Snake Oil, which features Stephen Pearcy, who formerly played in the band Ratt.
In Ignacio, the Chamber of Commerce decided to try a different event this year, a green chile festival.
“We’ve had a lot of positive response,” Chamber President Andrea Taylor said of the event. Farmers Fresh Market has access to a local chile crop in Arboles, so when manager Amos Lee asked if the chamber wanted to help sponsor a chile festival, “we decided to go with it.”
The event will start at noon on Friday and Saturday, with a corn hole tournament at 2 p.m. on Friday. First place is $ 100, second place is a gift card, and third place is a bushel of roasted chile.
On Saturday, there’s a chili cookoff, with categories for red and green varieties, along with salsa.
There’s also kids games because the chamber wants the festival to be a family event. Music and a beer garden round out the activities. Vendors will sell green chili, frybread, popcorn and other items.
Chili contest judging is at 2 p.m. Saturday, and samples will start being served to the public at noon. The event will be held behind the market on Pioneer Street.
Privately, several Ignacio chamber members have said they didn’t want to start running the rally again, saying it’s too much work for not enough return for Ignacio businesses.
The Billy Goat Saloon still expects to welcome a slew of bikers this weekend, said owner Ashleigh Tarkington.
Old Dog Tré will perform on Friday night, and there will be beer and drink specials all weekend long. The Gem Village bar also is a stop for a couple of poker runs this weekend.
Tarkington said she supports efforts to organize more biker events for next year.
“If they can pull this off in a couple of weeks, we will jump on board and see what we can do for next year,” Tarkington said of the local biker events. She also has her hands full running the hospitality tent for Saturday’s Fort Lewis College football game against Chadron State.
“It’s always a better weekend than a typical weekend,” she said of Labor Day. “You see the traffic and the bikes. We always welcome bikers.”