Steel Horse Rally Revving up for Return to Fort Smith
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By Scott Smith | The Times-Record)
The sounds of motorcycle engines purring and roaring down a street puts a smile on Dennis Snow’s face, yet it’s another sound that hits deeper into the heart of Snow.
“My favorite part of the Steel Horse Rally is seeing moms pushing their babies in strollers and hearing the bikers, moms, the children, everyone laughing,” said the Fort Smith resident. “It’s great seeing bikers putting children on their bikes for pictures and visiting with them and the mothers, because the old, rough-and-tough image of a biker is gone. These bikers are nice people wanting to help the community.”
Snow is president for the third annual Steel Horse Rally, which will be held beginning at 5:30 p.m. May 5 and again from 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. May 6 at the Steel Horse Alley at North Ninth and A streets, and along Garrison Avenue. The fundraiser will include the Steel Horse Rally Thunder Through the Valley motorcycle parade, the Steel Horse Rally bar, vendors, the Heroes Salute and Ride, the Birds of Prey show, poker runs, the Steel Horse Rally bike show, music concerts, a bikini contest and “a lot of laughter and fun,” he said.
“This honors our military veterans, law enforcement officials and first responders,” Snow said of the rally, which raises money for the Fort Smith Museum of History, Heroes on the Water, the Buddy Smith Veterans House, Earthbound Angels and the Arc for the River Valley.
“For the Heroes Salute, we will assemble at 5:30 p.m. May 5 at (the U.S.) National Cemetery, and we are encouraging everyone to attend,” he added. “We’ll park the bikes at the circle of flags when we first come in, and for the ceremony, we will lay wreaths on all branches of the U.S. military.”
Wreaths for law-enforcement representatives and first-responders also will be a part of the Heroes Salute, Snow said.
“This will be a way we can honor and salute the military, law enforcement and first responders, because they are such a big part of what we do,” he said. “Then, we will leave the National Cemetery and be escorted down to Garrison Avenue, where part of the avenue will be open only to motorcycles.”
During the evening of May 6, motorcyclists will be able to park their motorcycles from tire to tire down the middle of Garrison Avenue. This event will be an “ideal photo opportunity” that must end by 2 a.m.; any motorcycle left in the middle of Garrison Avenue after 2 a.m. will be towed, Snow said.
“We’ll do something else special where we will ride right behind the Steel Horse Alley stage at 3 p.m. May 6,” he said. “We will ride to Fort Smith Park and then back down to Garrison Avenue. We’ll loop around the new Gen. Darby statue, and the Fort Smith Fire Department once again agreed to drop Old Glory in between two ladder trucks on Garrison Avenue. We will ride under the flag and make a loop on Garrison Avenue, weather permitting.”
Called one of the biggest draws of the Steel Horse Rally by Snow, the Birds of Prey show will begin at 9 a.m. May 6 in “Pocket Park” in the 900 block of Garrison Avenue. The educational, family friendly event is presented by the Arkansas Native Plant and Wildlife Center, and the center’s Tommy Young will offer photo opportunities with rescued birds in exchange for a donation, Snow said.
“It’s unique in that you can actually handle the birds,” he said. “The organizers will put a glove on you and put a hawk, eagle or falcon on your arm for a picture. We strongly encourage you can give a couple of bucks or $10 or $20 — whatever you can afford to give to help the Arkansas Native Plant and Wildlife Center.”
Those providing multiple musical genres for the rally beginning at 11 a.m. May 6 will include Bobaflex, Scattered Helmet, Juni Moon, Joe Giles and the Homewreckers and Mason Jar Revival, Snow said. Not only do the bands play various styles of music, but their playing and singing abilities rise high above the norm, he said.
“The headliner we are bringing in is Bobaflex, which is named after Boba Fett in the ‘Star Wars’ movies,” Snow said. “They are just finishing up their new studio album, and they are touring to support their new single. That single is an incredible remake of Pink Floyd’s ‘Hey You’ song. It’s mind-blowing.”
Scattered Helmet will be performing one of their very first concerts in Arkansas at the rally, he said. Specializing in “great Southern rock,” the group is “a great biker band” that will please audience members, Snow said.
“The bikini contest will be at 8 p.m. in between Scattered Helmet and Bobaflex,” he said.
“And we want people to know that on May 5, we will be building the stage and getting that ready for May 6, so we encourage all attendees to go into the local restaurants, businesses and bars,” Snow added. “We want them to go all over Fort Smith to get a great local flavor of this area, because we don’t want the rally to be perceived as any type of competition with local businesses.”
Snow said he and other organizers are hesitant to predict how many people will attend this year’s event because “it’s hard to tell, exactly.” He added that last year’s rally raised about $10,000 for charities, and he hopes this year’s will raise the same or more money.
“We’re genuinely excited this year because we have some changes,” Snow said. “After two years of entertaining the masses at Harry E. Kelley Park, along the bank of the river and at the Fort Smith Convention Center, we found out that bikers just want to be on the street.
“This year marks the debut of the Steel Horse Alley, which will be a stage and area at North Ninth Street and A Street facing Garrison Avenue,” he added. “This will be an enclosed area that will allow us to card people and have adult beverages.”
To attend the Steel Horse Alley’s concerts and the Steel Horse Rally Handle Bar, each person who is 21 or older must make a minimum donation of $5 to the cause, Snow said. These donations and others can be made by emailing info@TheSteelHorseRally.com or visiting www.TheSteelHorseRally.com.
“That’s what makes these designated charities special,” Snow said. “They are local charities where the majority of the money stays right here in our region. These charities are very important to the Fort Smith community and we’re wanting to help them. Putting this money we raise back into our own backyard is what it’s about.”
At A Glance
Third Annual Steel Horse Rally
When: Noon to 10:30 p.m. May 5 and 9 a.m. to 2 a.m. May 6
Where: Steel Horse Alley at North Ninth and A streets and the surrounding area.
The event features the Steel Horse Rally Thunder Through the Valley motorcycle parade, the Steel Horse Rally bar, the Heroes Salute, the Birds of Prey show, poker runs, the Steel Horse Rally bike show and vendors, as well as live performances by Bobaflex, Scattered Helmet, Juni Moon, Mason Jar Revival and Joe Giles and the Homewreckers. The rally honors military personnel and veterans, law enforcement officials and first responders and will raise money for Heroes on the Water, the Buddy Smith Veterans House, Earthbound Angels, the Arc for the River Valley and the Fort Smith Museum of History. Very Important Biker (VIB) packages are available at www.TheSteelHorseRally.com.
Email info@TheSteelHorseRally.com or visit the event’s Facebook page for information.