The 2021 Steel Horse Rally roared back into downtown Fort Smith, Arkansas on May 7th & 8th and the charity motorcycle event returned with the largest attendance since the rally was established 7 years ago. The estimated attendance for the 2021 Steel Horse Rally is 125,000 to 130,000 people, with an estimated positive local economic impact of $19.6 Million. The motorcycle event, which is dedicated to all who serve and helps local charities, saw a marked increase in attendance from the 2019 Steel Horse Rally.
“We are ecstatic with this year’s turnout for the Steel Horse Rally,” said SHR President Dennis Snow. “2020 was a very challenging year for us and we were grateful to be able to have the event this year. We did not know if the charity would be able to survive since we were unable to do the event or any other fundraising activities last year. But thanks to our board of directors, volunteers and sponsors, the 2021 Steel Horse Rally was a tremendous success. Because of these dedicated people, we not only had a successful charity event, but added three new additions this year.”
The 2021 Steel Horse Rally debuted “Cops and Cones,” a motorcycle exhibition that featured Arkansas-based law enforcement riding their motorcycles through a challenging course of cones. This new event was hosted by the Fort Smith Police Department Motorcycle Unit and was a fun event for the entire family to watch.
The second addition to this year’s event was the new entertainment stage located in the First National Bank Parking Lot at 6th Street and Garrison Ave. which was renamed “Steel Horse Alley” during the rally. This allowed attendees to park their motorcycles in the middle of Garrison Avenue and be within walking distance of the new entertainment stage, 70+ vendors, and the Cops and Cones.
The third new aspect of the event was utilizing the Entertainment District. This newly enacted local ordinance allowed attendees to make a charitable donation for a specially designed bright red Steel Horse Rally charity cup that allowed patrons to walk on Garrison Avenue and throughout the Entertainment District with an alcoholic beverage. 100 percent of the donations from the cups go to four local charities: Antioch for Youth and Family, The Buddy Smith Veterans Home, the Fort Smith Museum of History and the Children’s Service League. Once all of the charitable donations for the cups are collected from local businesses who were official “Steel Horse Rally Charity Cup Locations,” the donations will be presented to the four charities by the Steel Horse Rally Inc. charity.
Michael Crouch, Steel Horse Rally Board Member and co-owner of Old Fort Harley-Davidson, said, “We are excited to be a sponsor since Day One of the Steel Horse Rally. Our sales have increased every year and we expect this trend to continue!”
Snow said much of the success of the Steel Horse Rally is because of the support of and cooperation with the Fort Smith Police Department.
“We had zero arrests during the 2021 Steel Horse Rally,” said Captain Daniel Grubbs, Commander of Special Operations of the Fort Smith Police Department. “That’s a pretty amazing fact, considering the amount of people in attendance.”
New Fort Smith Convention and Visitors Director, Tim Jacobsen had this to say about his first time experiencing the Steel Horse Rally: “The Steel Horse Rally generates exposure to the great destination of Fort Smith and creates experiences motorcyclists seek with the rolling hills and the scenic rides though the River Valley Region.”
The Steel Horse Rally continued the tradition of crowd favorites like motorcycle racing at the Steel Horse Shootout at Tri-State Speedway in Pocola, OK. The starting location of the Steel Horse Rally Thunder Through the Valley Parade was changed due to storm damage to Fort Smith Park, but still had a record crowd and this year was led by motorcycle units from around the state.
“We are proud to once again welcome a tremendous crowd to our great city,” said Fort Smith Mayor George McGill. “We are already looking forward to hosting this event May 6th & 7th, 2022.”
Planning has already begun for next year’s Steel Horse Rally. Information is always available on the official Steel Horse webpage at www.TheSteelHorseRally.com (Photo courtesy of Joe Ward)
The Steel Horse Rally thunders back on May 7 - 8, 2021.
The Steel Horse Rally thunders back on May 7 - 8, 2021. This year’s charity motorcycle rally honors all who serve and will once again have events in two states. The Steel Horse Shootout returns to Tri-State Speedway in Pocola, OK on Friday May 7th. The Steel Horse Rally returns to downtown Fort Smith both Friday and Saturday featuring the return of family-friendly events plus exciting new additions.
“We’re so excited about the new location for the Steel Horse Rally entertainment stage and the ‘Handle Bar’ both located in the First National Bank parking lot, on the corner of 6th Street and Garrison Ave. in Fort Smith,” said Steel Horse Rally president Dennis Snow. “We’re also very proud of a new exciting event ‘Cops and Cones’ which will feature law enforcement from all over the state of Arkansas riding their motorcycles through a precision course at Towson Ave. & Garrison Ave. at 10 a.m., Saturday May 8th. This event will be hosted by the Fort Smith Police Department motorcycle unit and we currently have commitments from Van Buren, Little Rock Police Department, and Saline County motorcycle units that will participate in this family-friendly motorcycle exhibition. There is no admission charge, so bring the entire family as we honor law enforcement.”
The 2021 Steel Horse Rally will be the largest event to use the new Entertainment District ordinance in downtown Fort Smith. Attendees that make a $5 charitable donation for the official red Steel Horse Rally Charity Cup will be able to enjoy their favorite adult beverage while experiencing the sights and the sounds of the 2021 Steel Horse Rally as they walk through the Entertainment District. 100% of the sales of the cups will be donated to the four local Steel Horse Rally charities: the Buddy Smith Home for Veterans, Antioch for Youth and Family, Children’s Service League, and the Fort Smith Museum of History. The Steel Horse Rally Charity Cups will be available at the official Steel Horse Rally Information Booth located in the 800 block of Garrison Ave. (the second tent from Garrison Ave. next to the wall with the giant mural). The charity cups will also be available for donations inside and right in front of the Steel Horse Rally Handle Bar at 601 Garrison Avenue as well as at all participating bars, restaurants, and downtown businesses.
This year’s event sees the return of the Thunder through the Valley Motorcycle Parade. This growing tradition open to all motorcycles begins staging at 3:00 p.m. Sat., May 8th at Fort Smith Park at 5301 Riverfront Drive. Kickstands go up at 4:00 p.m. New for 2021, this year’s parade will be led by all law enforcement motorcycle units that participate in the inaugural Cops and Cones Motorcycle Exhibition. The parade passes underneath a large American flag displayed by the Fort Smith Fire Department on Garrison Avenue. Everyone is invited to come watch the parade on Garrison Avenue and visit the vendors in the 600, 800, and 1000 blocks of Garrison Avenue and enjoy the live music and more on the Steel Horse Rally Main Stage at 601 Garrison Ave.
The Steel Horse Shootout returns to Tri-State Speedway in Pocola, OK on Friday night May 7th. Gates open at 5 p.m. and racing starts at 7 p.m. This year’s racing will be overseen by Xtreem Flat Track and will feature professional and amateur riders. Tickets will be available at the gate for $10.
“We are excited and grateful for the return of the Steel Horse Rally,” Snow said. “Like so many other businesses, 2020 was incredibly challenging for us. This year’s sponsors were vital to the keeping the Steel Horse Rally alive. A couple of months ago, we weren’t even sure if we would be able to have the 2021 Steel Horse Rally. We submitted a plan to the State of Arkansas Department of Health and it was approved. We realize that the Covid-19 virus is still a concern and we encourage attendees, staff and volunteers to wear masks and social distance when possible. We want everyone to be smart, be safe, be alive, and to enjoy this Steel Horse Rally and Steel Horse Rally events for years to come.”
Live music will return to the new Steel Horse Rally stage at 601 Garrison Ave., at the corner of Garrison Ave. and 6th St. across the street from First National Bank.
“This year we are proud to showcase some of the best musicians in our area,” Snow said. “Like so many of us, they are ready to get back to work. We are honored to provide the stage for them to share their passion for music.”
“All we ask for is great weather and for you to help spread the spirit of the Steel Horse Rally,” Snow said. “We invite everyone to be part of one of the fastest-growing charity motorcycle events in the United States. All of the information you need is available at the official webpage www.TheSteelHorseRally.com ”
The Steel Horse Rally Inc. is a state-registered 501(c)3 non-profit charity and, in less than 5 years, has had a tremendous positive impact on the local community. The Steel Horse Rally Inc. has donated more than $100,000 to other local charities. The two-day event has brought nearly 300,000 visitors to the Fort Smith area and in less than five years, has had a total estimated positive local economic impact of more than $60.6 Million. More information is available and charitable donations can be made at www.TheSteelHorseRally.com