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Motorcycle rally returns Labor Day weekend to Durango, Ignacio

Three-day event will feature stunt riders, annual parade and noise
Last year, the Four Corners Motorcycle Rally had an estimated 7,500 participants. This year, organizers are predicting anywhere from 8,000 to 10,000 participants. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald file)

The Four Corners Motorcycle Rally will return this Labor Day weekend for its 29th year with new events and a return to camping at the Sky Ute Fairgrounds in Ignacio.

The rally will feature new events such as The Brawl, Ives Brothers Wall of Death and American Motorcycle Association flat track races at the La Plata County Fairgrounds.

The Wall of Death shows will take place at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

“It’s kind of a big cylinder wooden thing where these guys ride motorcycles,” said rally coordinator and Harley-Davidson Dealership owner Trevor Bird. “They’re up vertical on the wall riding around in a circle as people stand above it, looking down and they grab dollar bills and tips out of people’s hands.”

Bird said The Brawl is the largest stunt riding competition in the country. Fifteen of the best stunt riders are invited to compete for cash prizes. The event will take place from noon to 3 p.m. Friday at Sky Ute Casino.

On Saturday night, the rally will welcome the AMA flat track races.

“It brings in some of the top flat track talent from across the country where these guys are competing for an AMA No. 1 plate, which is like a big deal in the motorcycle racing community,” Bird said.

The three-day rally is loved by some and loathed by others. It provides a financial shot in the arm near the end of the tourism season for some businesses, especially hotels and restaurants. But the rumbling bikes raise the decibel level in town, all but ruining the ambience for some people strolling the shops or enjoying al fresco dining on Durango’s Main Avenue.

“A lot of commerce happens in both Ignacio and Bayfield in addition to Durango and some of the other communities that they ride to such as Silverton, Telluride and Ridgway,” Durango Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jack Llewellyn said.

But he said the economic impact has decreased over the past decade. In 2013, the rally brought in about 20,000 participants to the Four Corners.

“I think it’s slowed down especially with the pandemic,” Llewellyn said. “But I think it’s starting to reboot.”

While some people may not like the rally because of the noise, Llewellyn said Durango businesses typically benefit. He said the rally provides funding for good causes and is more family-oriented compared with other rallies such as Sturgis.

“If you’re going to go downtown during the parade, it’s going to be loud – wear hearing protection, plan ahead,” he said.

The Four Corners Motorcycle Rally will host a block party Friday night at the corner of 10th Street and Main Avenue. The block party will feature performances from Kirk James and The Rudy Boy Experiment. Between performers, there will be a rally hall of fame ceremony where event founders, Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell and Mike Lovato, will speak.

Two after parties are scheduled for the weekend and include the Dixxon After Party from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday at El Rancho and the Kruesi Originals and Chopper Kings After Party from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday at the Garage.

The rally will also coordinate with the Southern Ute Indian Tribe for the first time in Bird’s five-year tenure.

“The rally originally started at the Sky Ute Fairgrounds, and we’re really honored to work with the Southern Ute tribe to be able to allow camping, tent camping and RV camping for the event,” he said.

Those involved with the rally have already raised money for multiple nonprofits, including $10,000 for Building Homes for Heroes.

To benefit nonprofits, Bird said he had sponsors forgo writing checks to the rally and instead had them sent directly to the organizations the rally is benefiting.

“So Jack Daniels, for example, offered a $10,000 sponsorship, which in return we asked, ‘Why don’t you guys just write that check directly to building homes for heroes?’” Bird said.

Proceeds raised through the rally will go to other nonprofits. The rally worked with Durango Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4031 on a benefit ride Friday morning in which proceeds will provide funding for the Ignacio Space Camp Scholarship.

Bird said the fund allows children from the Southern Ute tribe to attend space camp. The rally has already raised $5,000 – enough money to send two children to space camp.

Bird is excited about the new changes and additions this year, but he still finds the community aspect of the event his favorite part. He said Sunday is his favorite day because of the downtown motorcycle parade, which begins at 11 a.m. in Durango.

Last year, the rally was estimated to have around 7,500 participants. This year, Bird is predicting anywhere from 8,000 to 10,000 participants.

He said the rally is under a new ownership structure, which helped with the addition of some of the newer events. More specifically, Bird said the addition of Chip Lile, owner of El Rancho and executive director of Snowdown, has been beneficial.

“Chip joined our leadership team at the end of last year,” Bird said. “With Chip’s experience in the local community and experience with Snowdown along with his expertise in community relations, he has just been a real joy to work with.”


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