FORT SMITH, Ark. (KFSM) — Even with the rain, the two-day Steel horse Rally charity event in the River Valley had one of the largest economic impacts ever on the region.
Early estimates of the annual charity event indicate a large crowd of 80,000 people and an estimated economic impact for the local area of more than $16.5 million.
Steel Horse Rally Inc. president Dennis Snow thanked everyone who helped make Saturday (May 4) another record-setting crowd for the Steel Horse Rally
"Thanks to the commitment of our incredible volunteers and sponsors, Saturday proved to be a beautiful day with motorcycles arriving from more states than ever before,” Snow said. “As we turned onto Garrison Ave for the Thunder through the Valley Parade, it was obvious that the turnout was phenomenal."
The Steel Horse Rally is a charity motorcycle event dedicated to all who serve and benefits several local charities. This year, four local charities were selected from those who applied, to benefit from the rally. After the collection of all the pledges, the charity will be able to make donations to the four charities.
Local businesses saw a lot of foot traffic and many saw an increase in customers on Friday night during the rain showers that drove many riders indoors.
Gus’s Bar & Grill, one of the newest businesses on Garrison Ave. was the starting location for the Public Guardians Poker Run which benefits the Steel Horse Rally.
"Being our first Steel Horse Rally, it exceeded even our wildest expectations,” said co-owner of Gus's Bar & Grill Mike Stephenson.
Rally officials say they had a great turnout for the Thunder through the Valley Parade, which started at the Fort Smith Park and ended on Garrison Ave.
"The best example of the ‘Spirit of the rally’ is the patriotic pride of the bikers as they ride under the huge American Flag waving from the FSFD ladder truck during the parade,” said Steel Horse Rally Vice-President Orval Smith. “This moving event brings tears to everyone's eyes each and every year."
This year’s parade was led by Fort Smith Police Officers Kyle Story and Stephen Creek along with interim police chief Danny Baker on Fort Smith Police Department Motorcycles along with Sebastian County Sheriff Hobe Runion who rode his personal Harley-Davidson Motorcycle.
"From a police standpoint, the 2019 Steel Horse Rally was the best rally yet,” Baker said.
The 2019 Steel Horse Rally had several special additions including the Mayor’s Salute to Veterans Fireworks display on the Saturday evening of the rally. Fort Smith Mayor George McGill, who is also an Army veteran, welcomed veterans and visitors to Fort Smith and presented Steel Horse Rally president and founder Dennis Snow with a proclamation from the Arkansas Legislature for his charitable work and dedication to helping people and Fort Smith. Then, Mayor McGill counted down to the fireworks display before national recording artist Fuel took the stage.
"Considering all factors, the 2019 Steel Horse Rally number five proved to be a very successful event for everyone involved,” said Claude LeGris with the Fort Smith A & P Commission.
Plans are already in the works for the 6th Annual Steel Horse Rally, May 1 and 2, 2020 in Fort Smith.
Click here for more information about the Steel Horse Rally or to make a charitable donation for a limited edition Steel Horse Rally pin, patch or commemorative Steel Horse Shootout T-shirt.