Thunder in the Park
Who’s ready to rally? After battling the elements the last three years, the Arkansas State HOG Rally rolls back into the Spa City this month with its own weather-related theme.
“Thunder in the Park” will move into Hot Springs June 23-25 as hundreds and potentially thousands of Harley-Davidsons plan to enjoy a variety of events in and around downtown.
Organizers voted a year ago to return to Hot Springs despite a drop in attendance. The rally saw 971 participants preregister and another 212 register on-site. Attendance in the first three years averaged about 1,800.
“As always, we are hoping the weather will cooperate with us,” said rally director Scotty Dodd. “We do have indoor activities planned just in case so there will be something going on regardless of the weather.”
Many of the visitors travel from western Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas. The region received significant rainfall during the 2015 rally following a tropical storm. The 2013 event was held in May and an unseasonably cold front brought a bout of snow. The first day of the 2014 rally was met with scattered showers.
“We have already seen an increase in registration this year,” Dodd added. “We are already up about 25 percent and hope to see that number climb the closer it gets.”
Registration will open at noon June 23 at The Hotel Hot Springs & Spa and continue to 6 p.m. Registration costs $50. Harley-Davidson Owner Group memberships must be active during the rally dates and can be renewed at the rally. Vendors will begin setup in Hall D of the Hot Springs Convention Center at the same time.
All participants must sign a release form at the time of registration or provide a completed form when registering. A wristband will be required to attend all rally events. Wristbands will only be provided to individuals physically present at the registration table. Guests will not be allowed to pick up wristbands for other participants.
The Early Bird Party will kick off at 5 p.m. June 23 at the Clarion Resort, 4813 Central Ave. The Opening Ceremony will follow from 7-7:30 p.m. Entertainment by the John Calvin Brewer Band will be provided from 7:30-9:30 p.m. to cap the first night.
Registration will be available again June 24 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Guided ride staging will be open from 8-8:30 a.m. across from Embassy Suites Hot Springs — Hotel & Spa both mornings. The rally will welcome a trailer from the Harley-Davidson Demonstration Ride program which will be open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 24-25. Vendors will be available from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. both days, as will Party Central at The Hotel Hot Springs with a host of games and activities from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Staging for the annual rally parade will begin at Embassy Suites on Friday before participants begin their ride at 6 p.m. Riders will go east on Grand Avenue,
through Gulpha Gorge, along Park Avenue and make their way through downtown Hot Springs on Central Avenue before ending up back at the convention center.
Tragikly White, from California, will perform in halls B and C of the convention center from 7-10 p.m. June 24. A tattoo contest will be held at The Hotel Hot Springs from 2-6 p.m. June 25 before the closing ceremony in halls B and C from 7-8 p.m. The Ultimate 80s Experience will close the rally from 8-10:30 p.m.
“We are really looking forward to a great rally and would like to see the public come out and enjoy the festivities,” said Dodd.
The Arkansas State Hog Rally Committee has called on volunteers once again to make it the best event possible. Guests can volunteer online at www.arstatehogrally.com or by calling 479-890-6241.
Volunteers are needed to help unload and set up bikes. Help is needed each day to help usher and organize riders when they leave and return. Volunteers are also needed for the registration room, security, field events, poker runs and parking. Road captains will organize and lead several “guided rides” and may need help with organization.