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Fees cause grumbling among bikers

STEVE LEWIS/Durango Herald

The main venue for the Four Corners Motorcycle Rally this year was at the Sky Ute Fairgrounds instead of downtown Ignacio.

By Jim Haug Herald staff writer

Amid the rumble of motorcycles was grumbling from some bikers and vendors unhappy about the Four Corners Motorcycle Rally that ended Monday.

Char Blake, a vendor who sells sterling silver and gifts such as small signs like “You can have my gun when I run out of bullets,” blasted away.

Business was “very slow, very slow. I heard a lot of complaints from bikers,” Blake said.

“The biggest thing they were ticked off about was that they were charged $15 to get into the Ignacio (fairgrounds). They said there was nothing there. They felt ripped off because they felt they paid $15 to shop. There were no good bands playing. A lot of people told me they would never come back. I heard this over and over,”

Blake, who had a vendors booth at the Albertsons Supermarket parking lot, came here from the Loveland-Fort Collins area with her husband Thomas Blake.

“I barely broke even this year. It’s a good thing I had a cheap motel – staying with my brother (in Durango) because I would not have made it.”

A T-shirt vendor said business was “terrible.” A seller of boots said the rally is a “nice event” but not a “monstrous moneymaker.”

Organizers, however, said attendance was up this year compared with last year when there were 4,000 bikers. This year, Johnny Valdez, the events coordinator of the Ignacio Chamber of Commerce, predicted there was about 5,000 bikers, but final numbers won’t be known for a few days.

Kendra Alexander, manager of the Sky Ute Fairgrounds, also said the lot for recreational vehicles was sold out.

Valdez said people complaining about the entrance fees are unrealistic.

“People want a free party,” Valdez said.

What they might not know is that it costs the organizer, Ignacio Chamber Events Limited Liability Corp., about $150,000 to put on the event at the fairgrounds. Ignacio Chamber Events is organized as a separate entity of the Ignacio chamber for liability reasons.

Valdez emphasized the rally would never happen without the help of so many sponsors and volunteers, especially the leadership of volunteer coordinator Tuggy Dunton. The entrance fee was actually cheaper this year because it cost $20 to get into the fairgrounds last year. This year, the price was $15 at the gate or $10 if purchased online or with a coupon.

Once inside, bikers could listen to live music, participate in contests and shop for T-shirts, gifts and other motorcycle accessories.

Valdez said the event gave away a Harley-Davidson on Saturday night.

Organizers also were pleased that no one to their knowledge was hurt in a motorcycle accident.

Different this year was the consolidation of activities at the fairgrounds. In previous years, the town of Ignacio organized its own activities outside the fairgrounds.

Steve Griggs, a biker from Montrose, liked the more centralized event.

“It was better it was all in one place,” Griggs said. “Last year, it was spread out a little bit. Everybody was scurrying back and forth.”

While he liked the live music, Griggs agreed with the criticism that the $15 entrance fee “was pretty steep.”

“You pay $15 to get in. What’s left for beer?”

jhaug@durangoherald.com

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