Second motorcycle rally a sizzler in Merritt
As motorbikes started rumbling into the Nicola Valley last week, excitement among locals brewed until the entertainment finally kicked off Thursday at the 2nd Annual Great Canadian Bike Rally.
The four-day event slowly simmered at first, but the crowd set the event on fire by the time Jerry Doucette hit the Main Stage on Saturday.
“I’m so thankful to everyone here tonight,” Doucette said between songs. “Maybe we’ll come back and do this again next year.”
Rally organizers didn’t return Herald phone calls to comment about attendance numbers as of press time, but several locals commented on a lower-than-expected turnout.
Hopes for a massive crowd were high, as organizers had their sights on an estimated 15,000.
Street mall merchants said the blazing heat, which neared 40 C for most of the weekend, was a turnoff for shoppers.
One merchant said with temperatures that high, people just headed for the lemonade stand rather than spending the time to try on clothes, for example.
“You don’t get a lot of people wanting to shop when it’s that hot out,” said Linda Brown of Knotty Linda, which sold leather accessories. “On the days like today [Sunday], when it’s drizzling a bit out and is a bit cooler, you get a lot more people taking the time to shop.”
Merchants sold everything from Kangaroo-leather bracelets to mini donuts.
A more notable addition this year was a Hell’s Angels booth, which featured items with the infamous motorcycle club’s logo.
This year, the children’s charity event also featured the After Party at Nicola Valley Memorial Arena.
On Friday night, Tony Robertson and Hogwash hosted an all-star jam, while Brickhouse hosted the jam on Saturday with John Lee Sanders and Steve Kozak.
Tickets cost $20 on Friday, but after a low attendance that night, prices dropped to $10 per ticket in hopes of generating a better turnout.
The rally included four days of steady entertainment, including concerts from high-profile bands such as Harlequin, Streetheart, Jerry Doucette and John Lee Sanders — as well as approximately 25 other groups.
Blues Brothers Too — a duet that impersonates the Tom Arnold group made famous in the 1970s on Saturday Night Live — made stops at random locations and began singing.
The four days also featured poker runs, biker games, a show ‘n’ shine, Supermoto races, burnouts and stunt riding.