July 02, 2017
Vroom, Vroom. Again!
Written by: Zach Ledbetter, Vice President of Visitor Development
Motorcycle Fever – it’s a real thing. In just over a week, thousands will once again descend upon Cookeville, Putnam County, the Upper Cumberland, and Tennessee for the Southern Backroads H.O.G. Rally, July 11-15. As you may know, H.O.G., an acronym for Harley Owners Group, and the Harley-Davidson Motor Co. decided last year to no longer host state rallies only to move to a regional rally platform. For several months in early 2016, a team led by the Cookeville-Putnam County Visitors’ Bureau, Rally Coordinator Gary Bagwell and Boswell’s Harley-Davidson owner Bubba Boswell quietly and diligently worked to put Cookeville on the map as host of a 2017 regional rally. And almost one year ago, we were joined by Harley-Davidson and the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development to announce that, in fact, we would host “the biggest dog-gone thing yet,” one of only 16 rallies across the country. With nearly 2,000 attendees already pre-registered, we’re on track for this to be the largest motorcycle event we’ve hosted. The largest being 2,700 attendees in 2015. There’s lots of excitement surrounding this year, from past attendees to those in neighboring states. Oh, and we’re also the only five-day rally in the country.
Although a majority of the week’s events are members-only, we invite you to join us at those which are open to the public, including: Tuesday night’s Kick-Off Party at 7:00 p.m. at Holiday Inn Express; Thursday night’s Rides, Rods & Rockabilly Historic WestSide Street Party at 5:30 p.m.; Friday’s H.O.G.s vs. Pigs Rider Skills Competition at 4:00 p.m. at Sam’s Club; and Saturday’s AMA Pro All-Star Hillclimb at 11:00 a.m. at the Middle Tennessee Dragway in Buffalo Valley. While others are free of charge, Saturday has an admission fee of $20, while kids 12 and under will be admitted free of charge. Let me tell you, if you haven’t seen a hillclimb-bike scale a 500-foot hill in 7 seconds, you’re missing out!
Even if you are unable to attend the public events, we hope you’ll join us in welcoming our H.O.G. friends into the community throughout the week. Give them a wave as they ride by. Businesses, place welcome messages on your marquees. They are here to enjoy themselves and create lasting memories through the many experiences our great state offers. They also contribute a great deal while they’re here. Staying in our lodging properties, eating in our restaurants, purchasing fuel and shopping with our merchants leads to direct tourism expenditures. Leaving tax dollars in our communities alleviates a tax burden on you, our residents. Per the 2015 Economic Impact of Travel on Tennessee’s Counties, Putnam County visitors generated $122.15 million in direct tourist spending, creating $9.96 million in local and state tax revenue, equating to a savings of $338.51 in taxes per household.
Another friendly reminder to always look twice and save a life. Now, back to fighting the urge of buying a Harley during the rally. Let’s Ride!