Promoter says Steel Horse Rally will showcase downtown Fort Smith

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 129 views 

The Steel Horse Rally is officially a go and downtown Fort Smith could see up to 10,000 motorcyclists and visitors visiting the downtown area May 1 and May 2.

Dennis Snow, organizer of the motorcycle rally and the host of Thunder TV, told the Fort Smith Board of Directors during its Monday (Nov. 10) study session that he has secured locations throughout the downtown area to help with the rally and fundraising for the event would begin as early as next week.

"Like I said, we are a non-profit. We will officially start our fundraising next week because this will solely be funded by businesses in the area. And that's one thing that we're going to try to do, as far as our vendors, as far as what we're utilizing, we want to keep this money in our backyard."

The early fundraising, he said, will allow the organization to establish its outreach efforts to market and advertise the Steel Horse Rally in states surrounding Arkansas — namely Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Missouri and other bordering states.

"Where some of this money will go will allow me to go to all the contiguous states around Arkansas and do radio, television and print and carry the Fort Smith name out there," he said. "Because the downtown area is such a perfect area."

Even though Snow said the Steel Horse Rally is timed to not conflict with Bikes, Blues and Barbecue in Fayetteville – the events will take place six months from each other – he said Fort Smith is uniquely suited to host the rally and have room for growth. He said Fayetteville may be at capacity based on geographic constraints.

"If you look at Dickson Street and Bikes, Blues and Barbecue versus Garrison Avenue, there's really no comparison for what we want to do down there," he said, noting that Garrison is the second widest downtown street in the United States.

Beyond money being used for outreach efforts, Snow said funds would also go to bringing in some of the biggest acts in country and rock for performances on the Friday and Saturday of the rally.

Other details of the Steel Horse Rally were revealed to the board of directors on Monday, including the creation of a so-called biker's village during the rally near the glass pavilion in downtown, located near the Arkansas River.

"We're going to have vendors from all areas," he said, adding that it would focus on local vendors in order to keep the rally a Fort Smith-centric event. The location, he added, also allows for as much growth as possible without the risk of losing the Fort Smith, western heritage feeling.

Snow also noted that the annual Arkansas' Best Tattoo Convention had recently changed its name to the Tattoo Alley of the Steel Horse Rally and would set up shop at the Fort Smith Convention Center during the event.

The different announcements made by snow Monday highlight just a small portion of the work he said has gone into organizing the rally, which will benefit non-profits across the Fort Smith region. And with so much early success seven months out from the planned motorcycle rally, Snow said the future is bright for growth, adding that he believes the 10,000 expected visitors to Fort Smith may prove to be a conservative number.

"I will give you my personal guarantee that each year for at least five years, it will get bigger and better and get more and more proud," Snow said, noting that he had been installed to a five year term as executive director of the Steel Horse Rally organization by its board of directors.

He added that the event will not be just a motorcycle rally highlighting the Steel Horse brand, but it would highlight all Fort Smith has to offer.

"We want to showcase the glass pavilion, the walkway there, we want to use every facility that we have. Pendergraft Park. We just really want to showcase Fort Smith and this thing's going to grow. I can't give you the first year, but hopefully I can tell you that (it will be twice as big) the second year. … Motorcycle rallies right now are really, really large generators of revenue and most importantly, it's that tax money that turns over three to five times and that's what I know we all want to see is that tax money."

(The City Wire co-owner Michael Tilley is a board member of the Steel Horse Rally Organization.)