By Jonathan Riley
THE DIGBY COURIER
Expect more bikes, more fun and more happy people.
Organizers for Digby’s Wharf Rat Rally say 8,000 motorcycles came to the event last year and that “expectations for 2012 are slightly higher.”
“The weather has been fantastic all summer, which gets people out and riding,” says Glenn Dunn, rally chair. “We haven’t had just one or two days of sunshine this year - it has been a great summer to ride. I’ve seen more bikes around town and more bikes from away than I have seen in a long time.”
Dunn says there really is no way to know, but his gut feeling tells him more bikers are coming this year.
Vendor numbers are also up about 10 per cent and the number of phone calls from people looking for a place to stay have been steady.
“All indications are positive,” says Dunn. “The town and the municipality both recognized the importance of this rally when they agreed to fund a full-time position and that is going to translate into a better experience for everyone—for volunteers, for vendors and for the thousands and thousands of visitors coming to Digby this weekend.”
The basics of the rally are the same as always: thousands of bikers park on Water Street and thousands more onlookers come to walk around downtown. Shuttles will carry visitors from Conway to the downtown area and back.
The weekend is full of entertainment—free concerts at the marina every night, plus dances at the arena, and clubs and halls all around town and the local area; plus buskers; stunt performers; burn out competitions; motorcycle demo rides; long distance endurance rides; scenic rides; self guided rides; parades of bikes in the day and then parades of lit-up bikes at night; and of course fireworks on Sunday.
“Anyone who saw the boat races last year, won’t want to miss that this year,” says Dunn. “And that’s doubling from one day to two days of racing and they bring with them their own big crowd of fans.”
Burnouts will be happening downtown this year and the organizers have also planned a competition for rat bikes—bikes that have been kept on the road for the maximum amount of time, while spending as little on them as possible.
“These bikes are by definition a bit ugly but a lot interesting,” says event manager Laura Simmons. “I’m no expert on rat bikes, though, so we have someone designing the competition criteria for us.”
Simmons is also looking forward to Indian Larry Motorcycles and Bobby Seeger Jr. making their first visit to the Digby rally, on top of the wide variety of great builders, suppliers and vendors who have been coming for years.
Helicopter rides are a new addition, as is the LED parade of lights.
Simmons says many bike owners already have their bikes decorated with the lights, but aren’t legally allowed to have them turned on while driving.
“The RCMP are going to let them turn them on for this parade and it should be just beautiful to see them rolling in town Saturday night.”
Simmons started as the event manager in June and says she is amazed and grateful for the local support for the rally.
“We have great volunteers, great community support, not just here but from all the surrounding communities,” says Simmons. “It’s a great feeling to be working together with all those communities on the same goal of attracting people to the area and giving them a reason to stick around.”