By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily
The impending arrival of up to 1,000 bikers converging on Cody in late June might spark trepidation in some.
But downtown business owners in the northwest Wyoming community plan to welcome the riders with open arms.
“We are totally pumped,” said Gail Nace, who owns the Silver Dollar Bar.
Nace and others whose livelihoods depend on tourism dollars in the summer say they are excited about the Harley Owners Group (HOG) Rally to be held in Cody June 23-26.
“It’s nothing but good for this town,” Nace told Cowboy State Daily. “It generates revenue, it generates excitement. People are excited to come down and look at all the motorcycles. I see absolutely no naysayers in the entire community that I visited with.”
Part of the excitement might have to do with the estimated revenue the event is expected to generate.
“We are expecting about a $2 million-plus economic impact from this,” said Ryan Hauck, executive director for the Park County Travel Council. “Obviously, lodging tax will look great. Cody is going to definitely benefit from this, but then our downtown restaurants and attractions, they’re going to do amazing.
“These are people with disposable incomes that are here to spend money and have fun and really get themselves involved with the destination,” he added.
Hells Angels Rally
Many residents of Cody remember the Hells Angels World Rally that was held in Cody in 2006, when local law enforcement agencies strengthened their presence in town to counter any trouble that might come with a group that has a reputation for lawlessness.
That trouble never materialized – and biker-friendly shop owners are quick to point out that the Harley Owners Group doesn’t have the same reputation.
“You can’t have those expensive bikes and be a deadbeat,” said Monie Harrison, who owns a retail clothing store in Cody.
Harrison also owns a retail clothing store in Red Lodge, Montana, where a HOG motorcycle rally was held a few years ago. She said the event was a great experience for the community.
“It was our biggest moneymaker in Red Lodge,” said Harrison. “And all of them were kind. I never had one problem with a biker.”
“I have never had a problem with any of the motorcycle people coming through (Cody),” said Nace. “I never had a problem with the Hells Angels coming through. They were delightful humans to work with.
“And I don’t expect anything other than that from this wonderful group coming through, and they’re from all over the country,” she continued. “And the riding out here is just spectacular.”
Hauck told Cowboy State Daily that the HOG Rally is such a significant event that the Cody City Council has authorized the closure of a portion of Sheridan Avenue, Cody’s main thoroughfare, for a few hours and has decided to let pedestrians carry open containers of alcohol downtown during the event. Such actions are usually reserved for the Fourth of July celebration and other major community events.
“(June) 23rd is the welcome night, and the 24th and the 25th there will actually be mass guided rides throughout the big scenic loops that we have,” Hauck said. “So they’ll be leaving at seven or eight in the morning, and then come back in the early afternoon, and then back in town spending more money with everybody every night.”
Hauck said that the rally’s coordinators are keeping him updated daily about the number of people expected to attend the event, which was held last year in Durango, Colorado.
“Durango had right around 800, 900 rally members,” he said.
Response for the Cody event has been strong, Hauck said.
“The event started off pretty hot – I mean, they got up to 350 almost immediately once they released registration,” he said. “I think they’re right around 400 or so, but they said it is pretty typical to where the last 60 days, they’ll see (registrations) double, maybe even triple at that point in time. So I think we’ll be right around 700 to 900 people.”
“We always love sharing our town with all of the newcomers,” said Nace, “but the numbers of people and the street closure and the open container (permits) and just the general excitement, we are like, over the top ready for this.”