The roar of motorcycles is already reverberating in the Tug Valley of southwestern West Virginia, into which more than 15,000 motorcycle enthusiasts are expected to descend May 1-4 during its third annual Rally in the Valley. Organizers say winding back-roads and a singular landscape have helped make the celebration so successful -- perhaps more successful than envisioned three years ago.
Natalie Young, director of the Tug Valley Chamber of Commerce, says the rally has expanded far more quickly than she had imagined and is pulling in a more diverse attendance than expected, which could be a big part of its growth.
"I think that part of its success is due to its ability to serve as a broader celebration of life in the valley," Young said. "Though its central theme is biking, many who attend are not bikers but are interested in the sport, and the organizers are including many non-biking and family-oriented events throughout the weekend." To accommodate the broadening audience, a 5-K run, a climbing wall, and water-based recreational activities have been added to the schedule, she said.
The rally is having a significant economic impact, according to Laura Blankenship, manager of the 63-room Sycamore Inn in Williamson, West Virginia. "Last year we had a handful of rooms. This year, we only have a handful of rooms left," Blankenship said. Trail riders who venture onto the Hatfield & McCoy ATV Trail System in spring typically bolster business at the hotel, but the rally has definitely become a landmark draw, she said.
Rally organizer Paul Price says the incredible road system is a large part of the draw for bikers. "When they hit these roads and visit this landscape for the first time, they're blown away," Price said. "Not only are the highways into the valley a pleasure to ride, the old winding back-roads are fantastic."
Price said expressway US-119 from Charleston and US-52 from Huntington are particularly popular drives into the region, though many bikers opt to follow winding routes.
For more information on the event, visit its Facebook page: Rally in the Valley - Williamson, WV.