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Motorcycle rally reclaims ‘birthplace’

Hollister Motorcycle Rally
Hollister Motorcycle Rally

The small Californian town of Hollister is welcoming bikers back this weekend for their annual motorcycle rally.

Hollister Motorcycle Rally
Hollister Motorcycle Rally

Hollister is famous as the scene of the 1947 July 4 holiday riots where bikers from the outlaw Boozefighters gang were alleged to have scared the boots off the local citizenry. It caused a national outcry and towns wanted all bikers banned.

Despite later learning that it was a media beat-up and that only a few bikers were arrested for drunken behaviour, the riots were depicted in the 1953 film The Wild One, starring Marlon Brando (watch the video above).

The 50th anniversary of the Boozefighter “riots” were celebrated in 1997 with an annual motorcycle rally but it shut down in 2008 because of financial problems in Hollister.

After a five-year hiatus, the town staged a successful two-day rally in July 2013. It was such a commercial hit that Hollister officials last year invited the bikers back for the first of 10 annual Hollister Motorcycle Rallies.

Bikers are now streaming into town in preparation for the second motorcycle rally this weekend as townsfolk welcome them with open arms and cash registers.

Goondiwindi Motorcycle Rally
Goondiwindi Customs House

Maybe the born-to-be-wild set have gone mild, but it seems people in small towns and cities alike are welcoming bikers these days as a financial blessing. Cashed-up riders spend about $140-$160 a day on fuel, accommodation, food, drink, etc, according to Queensland Tourism. That compares with about $40 a day spent by grey nomads in caravans.

Yet recent “anti-bikie” VLAD laws in Queensland have cost these towns untold millions in lost revenue as riders stayed home in droves for fear of police harassment, according to Australian Motorcycle Business Chamber founder Travis Windsor.

It seems riders are now back on the road and the small-town economies are picking up again. 

Kyogle in northern NSW is planning a motorcycle rally in October, Goondiwindi in southern Queensland last year is planning motorcycle events and Cairns celebrated a successful HOG Rally a couple of months ago that injected more than $4m into the local economy.

Well done to all those small towns and cities out there that welcome bikers. They deserve our support.