(2 pics) — In a year when fear of the coronavirus has decreased attendance at most public events, an annual motorcycle rally being held this weekend at Lake Perry is breaking that cycle.
Thousands of riders were taking part in this year’s ABATE of Kansas National Labor Day Rally, which as of Saturday had clearly drawn more people than last year’s rally did, said Jon Puckett, president of ABATE of Kansas.
He attributed that in part to last year’s rally’s having come at a time when Lake Perry was recovering from flooding and less space was available for camping.
But this year’s rally also comes at a time when people want to get out and ride because they are tired of staying in, said Stew Frederick, a rally volunteer.
“These people are getting fresh air, they’re riding their motorcycles, they’re getting plenty of Vitamin D from this beautiful sun we’ve got today, and they want to be together,” Frederick said. “Man was made to be together. We were made for fellowship and we’re tired of being alone. So the bikers are gathering. The bands are playing. The vendors are here – this is probably one of the first events they’ve been able to get to, because of the COVID shutdown – and they’re selling their wares and everybody’s pretty happy to be here. You can’t beat it.”
Frederick is chaplain for the Leavenworth chapter of the Christian Motorcyclists Association, which is helping ABATE put on this year’s 45th annual rally.
Money raised by that rally enables ABATE of Kansas to stay in business, said Byron Harden, that organization’s vice president.
ABATE of Kansas is a lobbying organization that works to keep motorcycle laws reasonable, Puckett said. ABATE is perhaps best known for opposing proposed legislation that would require motorcyclists to wear helmets.
“We don’t have a problem with helmets,” Puckett said. “We have a problem with compulsory use.”
ABATE also offers educational programs and activities to teach people about motorcycle safety and motorcycling in general, Harden said.
This weekend’s four-day rally began Friday and runs through Monday at Paradise Point, near the north end of Lake Perry. Most participants were not wearing masks, though they also appeared to generally be keeping apart from each other.
Vendors selling food, T-shirts and other items were on hand.
Numerous activities were being offered, including band performances, a tattoo contest, motorcycle competitions and a “beer belly contest.”
Organizers said that while the attendance for last year’s rally was roughly 3,000 to 3,500, they hoped this year’s turnout would top 4,000 and perhaps reach 5,000.
Puckett said admission was $30 for members of ABATE and other motorcycle rights organizations and $60 for non-members, with membership in ABATE being included in the latter fee.
For those who arrive Sunday, participation will cost $20 for ABATE members and $30 for non-members, according to a flyer advertising the rally.