Four Corners Motorcycle Rally owner Johnny Valdez predicts 13,000 to 15,000 bikers this year during Labor Day weekend "if we have decent weather."
He spoke Saturday to a room full of prospective rally volunteers at Sky Ute Event Center, ground zero for the regional rally.
The 2014 rally had 9,244 paid admissions, he said. Valdez bought the rally, along with its debt, earlier this year from the Ignacio Chamber of Commerce, which had been in charge of the rally since 2006. Valdez managed the rally for the Chamber for the past three years, when he said he put in more than 5,000 volunteer hours.
"The Chamber worked really hard and tried to do great things," he said, but the rally wasn't progressing, and some chamber members don't have the enthusiasm for it now that it's not in downtown Ignacio. "I couldn't come back and do it for the hell of it anymore," he continued. "I had no intention of buying it." The chamber raised that idea, he said.
The rally now has a three-year contract to use the tribe's event center, he said, adding "it won't take us long to get where we're going."
Advance ticket sales are "at least five times the amount of pre-sales as ever before, with two weeks to go until the rally," Valdez said. "We've gone to rallies all over the place. The buzz is out there," about the local rally.
"We have some incredible people helping to make this happen," he told volunteers. "All of you own this rally. It's your rally, everyone's rally." He touted the number of activities at the event center, which he said many rallies don't have; and the giveaways of four motorcycles over the weekend, two by the rally and two from Sky Ute Casino. Each entity will give away an Indian and a Harley Davidson bike.
"That doesn't happen at any rally anywhere, four bikes within two miles," Valdez said.
A new event on the schedule this year is a joint rolling contest, Saturday night right before the rally's Indian motorcycle giveaway. However, Valdez clarified that the contest won't involve marijuana, which is illegal on the reservation. Participants will roll conventional tobacco.
He noted that even with all the activities at the Event Center, "We want people to go to Durango, Vallecito, Silverton, Pagosa, Aztec, Farmington. If we sshow people a good time, more people will come."
Rally vendors are scheduled to set up on Wednesday, Sept. 2, he said. Rally admission will be free on Thursday from 2 to 10 p.m. with live music by the Ben Marshal Band from 6 to 10 p.m. The community event is sponsored by Kroeger's Ace Hardware. Niel Hieb will provide the food. Late additions to the event schedule will be available there as well.
Adult admission Friday through Sunday will be $15 per day or $40 for the weekend. Rally schedule booklets are available around the area, and are online at www.fourcornersmotorcyclerally.com. Raffle tickets for the rally's bike giveaways can be purchased online, as well.