Bikers across the country are preparing to gear up and roll into Durango this Labor Day weekend for the annual Four Corners Motorcycle Rally.
While the pre-party begins on Thursday night at the Million Dollar Highway Saloon, events for the weekend officially kick off Friday. Events scheduled for Friday include a number of rides, a vendor village set up at the Harley-Davidson dealership and new this year, the Maiden Moto Art Show.
The rally kick-off will take place downtown. There will be music, motorcycle showcases and an induction ceremony into the Four Corners Motorcycle Rally Hall of Fame.
“The big thing Friday is the kick-off downtown,” event coordinator and Harley-Davidson dealership owner Trevor Bird said. “We worked with the city and got the permits to block off Main Avenue and 10th Street.”
All of the beer and food proceeds from the downtown parties will go to Building Homes for Heroes, a nonprofit that builds homes for disabled veterans.
On Saturday, even more rides are planned, including a women’s only ride called Durango Darlings. At the Harley-Davidson dealership, there will be an arm wrestling competition. The store will also host the VTwin Visionary Performance Bike Show.
Saturday evening is the Hooligan Dirt Dash at the La Plata County Fairgrounds. Downtown Durango will also feature a number of different activities Saturday, including 5 p.m. happy hour, food and drinks.
“We’ll have the VTwin Visionary Performance Bike Show at the dealership on Saturday, which is a really big deal. They only do five shows a year,” Bird said. “I’m really excited about the Hooligan Dirt Dash on Saturday, that’s a super fun, family-friendly event.”
Highlights for Sunday’s events include a downtown church service put on by the Christian motorcycle group Black Sheep, the annual burrito breakfast, a parade on Main Avenue and Wheelie Pig’s Hill Climb Challenge at Purgatory Ski Resort.
All three days there will include factory demo rides put on by Harley-Davidson at Bird’s dealership. Motorcycle enthusiasts will have a chance to try out two new motorcycles from Harley-Davidson that aren’t yet on the market.
In past years, the rally has included a home base where rally-goers can enjoy events, concerts and pitch a tent for camping. But not this year.
Hubs where people can gather this year include the Durango-Harley Davidson shop and at 10th Street and Main Avenue. Bird said he and his partners are looking to set up a home-base area with camping in the future, but without it, more people are likely to participate in the rides.
“In the past in Ignacio, they would have the fairgrounds, and a lot of times people would just go out and park their bikes out there and have a few beers and not really ride anywhere,” Bird said. “We really wanted to make it a rally where people get out and ride, and enjoy the beautiful scenery and epic riding that the Four Corners offers.”
The event has secured a 400-acre area that will be used for camping in the future, but the proper permits from the county were unable to be obtained this year.
Bird said he’s unsure how many people will come to Durango for this year’s rally. However, one indicator Bird mentioned was that the Hooligan Dirt Dash was allowed to budget only 1,600 tickets, and the event will likely sell out soon.
“We didn’t do a hill climb race last year because of COVID, but in 2019, we had close to 3,000 people out at Purgatory for that event,” he said. “It’s definitely thousands of people who come in to enjoy the events and activities associated with the rally.”
Local businesses should expect a lot of visitors in town for the rally over the Labor Day weekend.
“The motorcycle rally brings in a lot of people who normally wouldn’t come to Durango, especially on that Labor Day weekend,” said Jack Llewellyn, director of the Durango Chamber of Commerce. “The Harleys can be a little loud, but they like to spend money.”
Llewellyn said he’s talked with some businesses about the upcoming event, and was told that riders generally tip well.
Tim Walsworth, director of the downtown Business Improvement District, said for many businesses in the area the rally is a nice economic bump right as summer is winding down.
“I believe that the effort to open up the rally to a broader audience has worked, and we see it over Labor Day weekend, and we hear it when the cash registers ring,” Walsworth said. “We’ve been busy all summer long. The businesses are prepared for the big weekend, and then they’ll get a little bit of a breather when summer winds down.”
With COVID-19 and the delta variant still a concern, many businesses are following state and local guidelines and requiring people to wear masks.
“Really, what we’d like to ask attendees or anyone coming to downtown Durango is to look on the door of every business you go in, and see what they’re asking you to do,” he said. “It will clearly say if they have a preference on masking, or whatever it might be. We just ask that everyone respect the desires of our business owners, and then we can all have an awesome time in downtown Durango.”
The Four Corners Motorcycle Rally was held last year amid COVID-19 concerns, and hosts worked to make the event as safe as possible. This year with the delta variant, Bird plans to be just as diligent about sanitation and masking up.
“We got some flack last year for moving forward with the rally,” Bird said. “But the way we looked at it was that these people were coming no matter what. So we felt it would be more responsible to work with the city and San Juan Basin Public Health.”
Sanitation crews will be at event activities wiping down high-touch surfaces. Complimentary masks, gloves and hand sanitizer will also be available.
Bird said COVID-19 precautions last year were effective, and he is proud of his team and vendors for trying their best to be safe.
“Three weeks after the Four Corners Motorcycle Rally last year, not a single one of my team members, their family members or any of our vendors – and not a single person had tested positive for COVID from that Labor Day weekend,” Bird said
SJBPH suggests everyone get a vaccine.
“We hope everyone enjoys themselves at the rally, but that they remember to get vaccinated in advance,” said SJBPH spokesman Chandler Griffin. “We also hope that folks mask up, especially indoors.”
The delta variant is ramping up in La Plata County. Like many counties across the country right now, La Plata is considered an area with a high risk of transmission by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We have a formal public advisory in effect, strongly urging face coverings for indoor settings regardless of vaccination status, in line with the CDC,” Griffin said. “We’re accustomed to seeing a lot of visitors here in Durango, and we welcome them, but please, if you are a visitor, be aware that cases of COVID-19 are elevated right now. The delta variant is present and circulating.”