The Steel Wheels Bourbon Express will leave the station on March 25 to benefit the Fort Smith-based Steel Horse Rally Inc. charity. The educational bourbon sampling will take place aboard an excursion train on the Arkansas & Missouri (A&M) Railroad.
Steel Horse Rally Inc. is the non-profit that organizes the annual Steel Horse Rally, which draws thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts to downtown Fort Smith and raises money for several local charities. Since launching in 2015, the event has brought an estimated $12.618 million economic impact to the region, including $8.346 million in 2016 alone — approximately double the inaugural event’s $4.272 million. The total headcount for last year’s rally attendees was 55,090.
With the March sampling, “We were looking for a very unique, educational and exhilarating experience. Something that appeals to the adventurous side of the biker spirt,” said Steel Horse Rally Inc. President Dennis Snow. “After long conversations with bourbon expert Daniel Comstock of Diamond Beverages and after stepping aboard the beautifully restored coaches of the Arkansas and Missouri Railroad, we knew that we had found the perfect vehicle for this adventure.”
The Steel Wheels Bourbon Express event will feature bourbon experts, who will be on board to give insight into the various whiskies and bourbons that will be tasted as part of the experience. There will also be a Q&A session focusing on small batch bourbons and the different methods of production. Each bourbon will be paired with appetizers prepared onboard by professional chefs.
“Bikers know how incredible the roads of Western Arkansas are. This is a rare opportunity to enjoy the scenic beauty of the Boston Mountains and Western Arkansas from a new perspective,” Snow said.
The route begins in downtown Fort Smith and will carry passengers over the Arkansas River, through Van Buren’s downtown historic district and the Boston Mountains to Winslow, Ark. Passengers will meet with Snow and the Steel Horse Rally Inc. board of directors. The train is set to return to Fort Smith by sunset. That evening, The Courtyard by Marriott at 900 Rogers Avenue will offer a special room rate of $89 excluding tax to attendees of the event. Trolley service will be available to all downtown Fort Smith hotels.
The sampling group will depart from Miss Laura’s Visitor Center at 2 North B St. at 6 p.m. Tickets are $75 each. Seating is limited to 76. The passenger cars used will be the Explorer and the Spirit of Arkansas, which feature tables, seating, and a bar where drinks will be prepared. Passengers must be 21 or older and have a valid photo identification.
The event will not be Steel Horse Rally Inc.’s only fundraiser for 2017. Others will include the Frozen Knuckles Run — a Feb. 25 motorcycle ride in Barling — and the 3rd Annual Steel Horse Rally itself on May 5 and 6 from downtown Fort Smith. For more info, contact Karen Snow at the Steel Horse Rally Inc. office, at (479) 414-3775.