Steel Horse Rally returns to downtown Fort Smith with Strongman Competition

by Tina Alvey Dale ([email protected]) 1,201 views 

This year’s Steel Horse Rally, now in its eighth year, will feature a new attraction adding to the weekend agenda – the Steel Horse Rally Strongman Showdown. Last year, more than 200,000 attended the event.

This new event will feature professional and amateur men and women athletes lifting tremendous amounts of weight, while competing head-to-head and against the clock. It will be an officially sanctioned event with athletes having the opportunity to advance to Regional Strongman Competitions with a win at this event. The event will be held at 11 a.m. on May 6 on Sixth Street, between Garrison Avenue and North A Street, following the Cops and Cones Motorcycle Exhibition at 10 a.m. May 6 on Garrison Avenue.

The Steel Horse Rally has brought around 620,000 visitors to downtown Fort Smith since inception to raise funds for local charities and honor all who serve the city, the region and the nation, said Dennis Snow, Steel Horse Rally Inc. president.

The inaugural Steel Horse Rally was held in 2015. In just seven weekends since the Steel Horse Rally was founded, the event has had a total combined estimated local economic impact of $102.2 million, according to information from the Fort Smith A&P Commission.

“This even brings more visitors and tax dollars to the region than any other annual event,” a news release said.

The charity motorcycle rally has raised more than $144,000 for local charities. This year’s rally will benefit:
• Antioch for Youth and Family – a non-profit organization that helps local veterans, veteran’s families, seniors and children in need of food assistance in western Arkansas; and
• The Buddy Smith Home for Veterans – a two-story, 5,053-square-foot home that provides supportive housing and lifestyles programs to help veterans; and
• The Children’s Service League – a Fort Smith community program that has provided clothing and hygiene products for school children in need for more than 80 years.

This year’s rally will be May 5-6 in downtown Fort Smith. Garrison Avenue will be closed to traffic during the rally from 6:30 p.m. May 5 until around 2 a.m. May 6 and again from 9 a.m. May 6 to 2 a.m. May 7. The event will once again include the Thunder through the Valley parade at 4 p.m. May 6th. This year’s parade will be dedicated to the late Fort Smith Fire Chief Phil Christensen, who died Feb. 11 after a nine-month battle with cancer.

“We go kickstands up at 4. We go down A Street, turn on 13th and then come down Garrison Avenue. If you have ever experienced a Steel Horse Rally, probably one of the most photographed moments is the parade coming down Garrison Avenue underneath the gigantic American flag. It really is a sight to behold. Makes me cry every single year,” Snow said.

The 2023 Steel Horse Rally Entertainment Stage will feature live entertainment including this year’s headliner, Hillbilly Vegas. The Steel Horse Handle Bar will be located in the same parking lot where people can make a donation for the Official 2023 Steel Horse Rally Charity Cup and enjoy their favorite adult beverages. All of the donations for these cups go to this year’s charities. The Charity Cup accompanied with an armband will allow those 21 and older to walk through the entire rally and downtown Entertainment District with an adult beverage. The cups will be available for a minimum $5 charitable donation at the Steel Horse Handle Bar and all participating businesses.

2023 Steel Horse Rally VIB (Very Important Biker) packages are available for a charitable donation of $99 at the official Steel Horse Rally website. There are only 200 of these packages available. They include access to the Steel Horse Shootout Lounge at Tri-State Speedway May 5 in Pocola. Additionally, VIBs receive premium seating for the entertainment and Miss Steel Horse Rally Bikini Contest on the Steel Horse Rally Main Stage during the rally, the official 2023 Steel Horse Rally T-shirt and a 2023 commemorative bag filled with goodies.

The Steel Horse Shootout will feature professional and amateur motorcycle racing and live music and entertainment. Sponsors for this year’s event include Choctaw Casino, The City of Fort Smith, First National Bank of Fort Smith, Fort Smith Harley-Davidson, Cheap Sleep, Belle Point Beverages, Wyndham Hotel and Courtyard by Marriott in downtown Fort Smith. The rally is free and open to the public.

“You don’t have to be a biker to enjoy the sights, sounds and tastes of the Steel Horse Rally. Experience the variety of vendors and events that are free and fun for the entire family,” Snow said.

He said there would be many local, regional and national vendors set up during the event selling a variety of food, clothing and merchandise.

“The fuel for all of the Steel Horse rallies has always been an incredible volunteer team,” Snow said. “We need all types of volunteers from ambassadors to security backstage.”

The 2023 Steel Horse Rally Volunteer Meeting will be at 10 a.m., March 25 at the Wyndham Hotel, 700 Rogers Ave.