Been three days since I rolled outa the RA rally in Harrison, so a final review of that rally is in order. Besides, I’m all fired up to do an update on the developing VW diesel soap opera, and need to close the books on this rally season.

Despite the site being a high class dump, I slept way better at the RA Rally than at most. I take that back, most dump sites, er excuse me, “sanitary disposal sites” around here seriously overcompensate with well tended landscaping and such and at least the front office is spotless. Outback, that’s another matter… Boone County, Arkansas Fairgrounds just push the manure to the edge of the camping area and let it sit, leaving it to the embarrassed city of Harrison AKA our hosts to turn their Public Works folks on the problem with Kubota bucketfuls of lime. And so it was all week and weekend, with the RA and city struggling to make the fairgrounds a passable rally site. Meanwhile, the blessings of the rural Ozarks were on display- country quiet and dark skies lead to the aforementioned easy sleep, and the Harrison “micropolitan area” of 50,000 odd souls was big enough to provide most anything a visitor needs without the traffic jams and tourist traps of overrun Branson just up the road.

But yes, there were complaints, and I heard an earful- That may explain why I and a few others were informed by saturday afternoon that the county was giving us the fairgrounds rent free. To top it off, word spread that we could stay over into monday if we wished, though the buildings with flush toilets would probably be locked up sometime monday. That’s a marked contrast with the usual fairgrounds rules, which require complete clearing of the grounds and a full inspection on sunday, and sometimes by noon. That suggests that while Harrison is undeniably behind the curve, they’re workin’ on it, as we saw the grounds improve markedly during the event. RA deserves credit for this too- It was easy to find the rally chair on site and problems were dealt with as quickly as possible. Contrast the agility of RA with the hierarchy that is BMWMOA- Submit a complaint and it might get denied at the board meeting at the next MOA rally, after you’ve been banned from the MOA forum, blamed for MOA’s ongoing loss of members and volunteers, and maybe been hung in virtual effigy in the MOA offices too. Thus I rate the RA rally a B thanks to their efforts, while the MOA rally continues it’s underachievement with a D rating… If MOA puts on a great rally, somebody screwed up!

‘Tis also the end of rally season for me, and most of us that live north of the Mason-Dixon line. ‘Twas a good ride, fourteeen rallies from the Florida Winter Rally in January to this past weekend’s BMWRA Rally in Arkansas. With the exception of the BMWMOA which seems to be constitutionally barred from throwing a great rally, every single club worked their butts off to produce the best rally possible. Which leads us to the number one reason rallies rise or fail… The site!

The Florida national guard, South Dakota state parks, Airhead Roger in Naples, and cities of Soldiers Grove, Atchison, Grand Marais, Elkader, Harrison, and a campground whose name I forget near Belmont, Wisconsin have embraced their rallies and are better economically and culturally for it. When a few hundred or even thousand motorcycle riding “culture vultures” make the rounds of your historic district, eateries, and shops while educating the locals that not all motorcycles are two wheeled tractors, that’s a good thing for all concerned, besides the notable boost to the local economy! But Billings and an unnamed campground in Galena, North Dakota state parks, and an unnamed resort in “the Dells” see riders as a cash cow to be milked… 5000 or so riders will now only stop in Billings for a short night’s rest if they’re dead tired, and that campground in Galena charges near as much to pitch a tent in their pasture for the night as a room goes for in Dubuque, 20 miles away, and there’s no security at the gate, and North Dakota had the stupidity to charge us even more for a thursday night tent site than Galena! And the Dells Rally that’s provided a profitable season extension may be no more, victim of the resort’s high rates and resultant falling attendance.

So rally venues, here’s the recipe for success: Embrace the rally, make it a weekend community celebration. Don’t just rake in the profits- Reinvest in site facilities that, what the heck, are gonna benefit the community for years to come anyway. And BMWRA, after the bills are paid, how ’bout donating some of the rally profits back to Harrison and Boone County for improvements to the rally site?

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