WINCHESTER, Va. (WDVM) — Starting Wednesday, thousands of motorcyclist will be on Winchester’s roads.
Motorcyclists from all over the country rolled into the city of Winchester for the Harley Owners group rally. HOG organizers say the event hasn’t been in Winchester for 25 years. Now that’s its back, they say registration numbers are booming.
“All my properties here are full,” said Jo Ann Emmons, the regional rally coordinator for HOG. “The Clarion Inn and Conference Center sold out in just a few hours.”
Emmons anticipated 1,500 registrants, but numbers reached close to 3,000.
Although riders came from 29 states and four countries, rider Jeannine Dan Barnette from Rhode Island says they’re not strangers.
“It’s a family reunion,” said Barnette. “My wife and myself do the same thing but we do it in the Northeast, so we run the rallies in the Northeast along with other committee members. Some of them will be here for this rally also.”
“We really started getting into our riding and becoming a family,” said Tana Lon of Grove’s Harley Davidson. “Your HOG family becomes your family. You become an extension of each other.”
Jo Ann Emmons says Winchester’s uncrowded, curvy roads and beautiful countryside are perfect for motorcyclists and its warm, welcome residents gives to riders is a bonus.
“We want that comfort level, we want people that are friendly, we want people that are inviting,” Emmons said.
Justin Kerns of the Winchester-Frederick county Convention and Visitors Bureau says the bureau has been working with hotels, restaurants, and event spaces to make sure everyone is accommodated. Kerns says the area has made investments to attract groups such as HOG.
“It’s part of our strategic plan for the city, the county, for our tourism office,” said Kerns. “This is exactly what we are trying to do. These are the types of groups; these are the size of groups that we’re trying to move towards.”
Those investments pay off. “It landed at about 6 to 7 million dollars in local spending over the five days,” Kerns said.