There’s no question the 2nd Annual Blackhawk Motorcycle Rally 2005 in Spring Hill, Kansas on June 18 was a success. Word of mouth about a fun event spreads the news quickly.
The number of motorcycles coming into Spring Hill and the number of bikes entered in the show more than doubled. The Spring Hill Ruritans’ High School Scholarship Foundation nearly doubled the amount it made from last year. Spring Hill Scouts and the high school’s After Prom organizations also benefited. Vendors were happy, and the Spring Hill community received a vast amount of radio coverage as a result of the event.
But there’s one thing rally organizer and owner of Curly Brown’s Grill Jason Rogers wants people to know about future rallies: Take U.S. Highway 169 south to Spring Hill, NOT U.S. Highway 69.
“We had one vendor call and tell me, ‘I don’t see you guys,’” Rogers said. “I asked him where he was, and he told me 223rd Street and 69 Highway. I said, ‘No! It’s 169, I-35 to the Great Mall in Olathe and turn south.’
“We tried to make that clear on all our directions, but we get that all the time. Even when people are just trying to get to my restaurant, a lot of people take 69 instead of 169.”
But plenty of motorcyclists did find their way to Spring Hill.
“Overall, I think it went great,” Rogers said. “We more than doubled the number of people from last year. The Ruritans estimated we had 1,600 spectators come in throughout the day, and an estimated 800 bikes. We had 500 bikes in the gated area at one time and then they began parking everywhere.
“But there were no problems and everyone seemed to have fun. The show went well. We more than doubled the amount of entrants last year in the show.”
Rogers said there were some disappointments. Gail’s Harley-Davidson failed to show up with its trailer and vending booth, and the Dyno shootout (a machine that enables motorcycles to go through gears on stationary rollers to determine their speeds and rpms) was late because of the 69-169 confusion.
“Gail’s couldn’t get the bay doors open on their trailer,” he said. “They were supposed to send another trailer out, but never made it. But I don’t think anyone noticed. And the Dyno came in late.
“But those things happen. Radio DJ Slacker of KY 99.7, has done some things with Gail, and he called her and said she should have been here. I got a message from her today saying that she was 110 percent committed to whatever we need next year.
“So we’re just a couple of days past the event and we already have another vendor signed up for next year.”
Rogers said without the support of vendors and sponsors, along with community leaders and volunteers, the event would not be as successful. Sponsors were Gail’s Harley-Davidson, McDonald’s, Curly Brown’s, PowerSPORTS4Less.com; Coors Light, and radio station KY 99.7.
“The band, Voodoo Kitchen sounded great. I heard a lot of people commenting about the band,” he added. “Overall, I thought it was a great turnout.”
Spring Hill Ruritan, Gene Sawyer, said he thought shirt sales, which helps fund the Ruritans' High School Scholarship Foundation, went well.
“The sales are going pretty good,” he said. “I know there are more motorcycles here this year than last.”
This past spring, the Ruritans were able to provide three Spring Hill High School graduates each with a $600 scholarship as a result of funds raised for the foundation at last year’s event. This year, organizers had set a goal of $4,000.
“We knew that was a little aggressive,” Rogers said. “But after our expenses, I think we’ve raised more than $3,000. We’ll know for sure in a few days after all the expenses have been paid. It takes a lot of money to put this on, but it’s well worth it for the scholarship fund as well as the attention it brings to Spring Hill.”
Other activities the Ruritans sponsor include Scouting, youth sports, the high school band, the community food pantry, local 4-H groups, local churches, and people with special needs.
“We helped sponsor four Scouts to attend a day camp this summer,” Sawyer added.
Ruritan Darrell Williams added that the goal was to try and raise enough money to give out twice as many scholarships next school year.
“The kids have to apply for the scholarships,” he said.
Williams added that the rally received good support from the community.
“I haven’t heard much against it,” he said. “It’s well organized; Jason does a good job of doing that. It takes a lot of work. And the police do a great job of helping us. There was no trouble last year.”
Nor was there any trouble this year, according to Rogers.
“We just didn’t have any (trouble),” he said. “People come and just want to have a good time.”
Scott Confer, Wellsville, said he was surprised at the number of people attending the rally.
“It’s cool,” he said. “I didn’t attend the first year, but thought I would check it out this year. There are a good number of people here and the music is pretty good, too.
“I looked online and saw something about this, and my buddy told me about it. This certainly is a good day for it.”
Terry Keller, Spring Hill, said he missed last year’s event.
“But I heard a lot about it,” he said. “So far, this is a pretty good turnout. It’s got me fired up. And this is good for the community, too. It gives Spring Hill a lot of exposure through the radio.”
There were giveaways, tattoos, biker events and contests, live music, a morning ride, games, the Curly Brown Sprint Car, Master builder bikes, stunt bike show, and girls representing Bud, Miller, Jack, and Coors, along with the Blackhawk Girls.
No doubt when it comes time for the Third Annual Blackhawk Motorcycle Rally 2006 next June, word of mouth will make it an even bigger event.
Story and photos by Chuck Kurtz