Organizers say Steel Horse Rally ready to ‘Thunder Through The Valley’

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

Four charities, a “Thunder Through The Valley” parade in downtown Fort Smith and potentially 5,000 motorcyclists are expected to be part of the inaugural Steel Horse Rally now just a month away from roaring into the region.

The rally will begin May 1 and wrap up May 2. Dennis Snow, president of Steel Horse Rally Inc., estimates 5,000 motorcyclists will be in the area for the event which is geared toward honoring members of the military, veterans, police and firefighters and first responders. He praised the help received from the Fort Smith Police Department and other city divisions, and said the community support has been positive.

"The parade is so important because it is our way of honoring our military, veterans law enforcement and first responders and it also gives the residents of Fort Smith an opportunity to view hundreds if not thousands of motorcycles. I really want to thank the Fort Smith Police Department for their tireless efforts in coordinating the parade, as well as coordinating shutting down a portion of Garrison Ave. to motorcycle traffic only on Friday and Saturday night,” Snow said.

Four charities selected by the Steel Horse Rally Board to benefit from this year’s event are the Gregory Kistler Treatment Center, The Arkansas Veterans Home, The Darby Legacy Project and the Fort Smith Museum of History. (Michael Tilley, a co-owner and editor of The City Wire, is a member of the Rally Board.)

There are also several poker runs (charity motorcycle rides) and events that are part of the Steel Horse Rally that benefit local law enforcement and firefighters. Also, several vendors that will be at the Steel Horse Rally are donating part of what they make at the Steel Horse Rally to local veterans and children's organizations. If the rally is extremely successful, it will be able to help even more charities next year. 

Outreach efforts to market and advertise the Steel Horse Rally include Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Missouri and states bordering Arkansas. The Fort Smith Advertising & Promotion Commission has authorized $2,500 to help with such outreach.

Snow said a conservative economic impact suggests the 5,000 would spend $300 in the city, which would generate at least $450,000 directly and more considering an economic rollover effect of each dollar.

The event will include live music at Harry E. Kelley Park in downtown Fort Smith on Friday and Saturday nights. Bands set to perform include Scot Ellison, Backroad Anthem, and Hillbilly Vegas.

The Steel Horse Rally “Thunder Through the Valley Motorcycle Parade” is set for May 2. The parade line-up will begin staging at 4 p.m. on Saturday (May 2) at Fort Smith Park, and kickstands go up at 5 p.m. as the parade heads to downtown Fort Smith. The parade is free and open to anyone riding a motorcycle or trike.

Following are some of the other events associated with the Rally.
• The Fort Smith Museum of History will present a “Motorcycle Memories Exhibit” during The Steel Horse Rally.

• The Arkansas State Veterans Home, which serves thousands of veterans every year, and the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association will lead a charity motorcycle ride to the Veterans Home during the Steel Horse Rally.

• “Art with a Purpose” will be held at Brick City Emporium April 6-19 to help support local artists. Brick City Emporium is located at 3215 S. 74th St. in Fort Smith (behind Texas Roadhouse in the former K-Mart building). Art created and donated by local artists will be on display and available for purchase in the Steel Horse Rally section of the Community Corner. All proceeds from art sales will go to the Steel Horse Rally Inc. For more info and to find out how to donate artwork, contact Karen Snow at [email protected]

• The “Birds of Prey Show” will take flight during the Steel Horse Rally. The Arkansas Native Plant and Wildlife Center will bring several large birds of prey they have helped rescue and rehabilitate. This family-friendly event will be held from 10 a.m. to Noon on May 2 on the banks of the Arkansas River (follow signs at Harry E. Kelley Park). People can see the large birds up close and volunteers and staff from the center talk about how the birds fly and hunt. 

Snow, an Air Force veteran and a polio survivor, said he is passionate about helping others with the Rally.

"As a resident of Fort Smith my entire adult live, this rally and helping others have been passions of mine for some time," Snow said. m"I am personally moved to see Fort Smith step up and take pride in improving our community."

See the Steel Horse website for more information on motorcycle parking, event venues, times, and ways to donate.