First Ave. to be one-way southbound
© Jonathan Riley
A few bikes on Water Street in Digby. Tuesday, August 27.
The Wharf Rat Rally will be the biggest motorcycle rally in Canada this year.
“There’s no doubt,” says rally chair Glenn Dunn on Monday, Aug. 26. “We’ve had people go and look at the other rallies, we’ve talked to vendors, to bikers, to the industry: this is the rally.”
He says one sure sign of the importance of Wharf Rat in the motorcycle world is Harley Davidson’s decision to unveil their 2014 models in Digby.
“The rally coincides with the 110th anniversary celebrations in Milwaukee but they’re sending their 2014s here too,” said Dunn. “They’re going to have the 2014 bikes here for people to demo on. We have people coming from all over just to see these bikes.”
Dunn says the number of vendors is up so much they are even giving them spots on the lower boardwalk.
He says vendor numbers have gone from about 60 to well over 80.
“Again that’s recognition of the importance of this rally,” said Dunn. “If the vendors only have so much time and money, they go where they can get the most bang for their buck and that’s the Wharf Rat Rally.”
Dunn says the rally organizers are more ready this year than they’ve ever been.
“I know in the past things look well-organized but this year we’ve been able to get more lined up and organized,” he said.
For example he points to the schedule this year available as a separate flier.
“In years past people used to get our booklet and rip the schedule out,” he said.
The schedule is available at headquarters, the local visitor information centres and around town.
They held meetings throughout the last year with RCMP, Emergency Measures Organization, the town and the municipality to discuss the details of making room for all the visitors.
Following an RCMP suggestion, First Avenue will remain a no-parking zone but will also only be a one-way street headed south starting Friday night.
Any cars or trucks coming down Warwick will be directed up Queen – bikes as always will be able to head north along Water Street.
“The two-way traffic on First has always caused a problem,” says Dunn. “We think this will make things safer for everyone and keep that road open for emergency response vehicles.”
Passes for home owners in the downtown area will be available again this year but Dunn cautions those passes don’t guarantee you’ll be able to move through the biker traffic. He recommends driving in the early morning or late evening to avoid the congestion.
Other changes this year include moving the stunt bikers show to the Digby wharf parking lot. A precision riding team will be performing at the rink parking lot.
The airport runway will be hosting a time trial course for bikers.
The tides are off for hosting the boat racers this year but a team of fly boarders ( water jet-powered stuntmen) will be performing some early morning and late night shows on the Basin.
Dunn says there are so many events it’s best to check out a schedule and check in with local venues.
“There’s no shortage of things to do and see this weekend,” he said.
There is also still room for anyone with four to six hours to spare to help out as a volunteer and earn their special edition volunteer t-shirt.
“We’ve got some great volunteers and part of the improvements we made to organization was making sure we look after them even better,” said Dunn. “Our food and water set up this year is the best organized yet.”
For more information check out www.wharfratrally.com .