While city leaders are stewing over whether an official Hollister Independence Rally can take place in 2019, community members are teaming up with Brian Holt, owner of The Official Gear Company out of Daytona Beach, Florida, to launch the Hollister Rebel Rally and the 47 Camp Ride at Bolado Park. The event is expected to take place July 4-7.
Holt’s local partners include Mike Corbin, owner of Corbin Motorcycle Seats and Accessories, Peter Lago, owner of iconic biker hangout Johnny’s Bar & Grill, and Rey Sotelo, general manager of Hollister Powersports and owner of the local Indian Motorcycle dealership.
The upcoming rally will feature the theme, “It’s all about the ride.” That’s the promoter’s way of saying, “Come and check out Hollister, stop in at Johnny’s for a beer, visit Hollister Indian Powersports or Corbin’s,” said Holt. “But then there are hundreds of miles of roads to ride and a lot of great country to see.”
Holt spoke with BenitoLink on Feb. 5 about the upcoming biker events. He said the Rebel Rally, Corbin’s Open House Party Bike Show and the 47 Camp Ride are three different, yet connected venues and that organizers are cross-promoting them under the umbrella of a single motorcycle rally.
“The bikers will go to Johnny’s and drive downtown, buy Rebel Rally t-shirts, and then take a ride,” Holt said. “We want people to support downtown, but bikers want to ride. Peter [Lago] is making some videos to show various rides through the hills, out Panoche Road, and even Big Sur. We’ve got guys on bikes videotaping those rides to promote the area.”
The Rebel Rally welcome center is expected to be at the Veterans Memorial Building in downtown Hollister. Holt said the center will have vendors, food, motorcycle artwork, display motorcycles and information about the other rally events and rides. He said there will be no alcohol sales at the welcome center, but he hopes people will go to either Johnny’s Bar & Grill or the Wild One Saloon at Bolado Park for drinks.
Corbin will hold its annual event at its facility across from the airport. Rey Sotelo will not only be showing off the latest in Indian motorcycles, he has also secured Bolado Park for the 47 Camp Ride.
“There will be bands, biker camping, races and the Wild One Saloon,” Holt said. “They were in the Vets building last year, but they felt it would be a better fit to move out to Bolado Park, so they could do some camping and other events without the limitations of being downtown.”
While there are grand plans for the Rebel Rally, the ever-troubled Hollister Independence Rally came up during the Feb. 5 Hollister City Council meeting. City Manager Bill Avera said the rally could not go forward because no promoter would agree to do it longer than a year or two. He said workers’ compensation insurance for security personnel remained a key sticking point.
Councilwoman Carol Lenoir said she cannot support the rally if the city is on the hook for workers’ compensation.
Mayor Ignacio Velazquez, a perennial rally supporter, said he spoke to previous promoter Randy Burke about returning to run the rally downtown. According to Velazquez, Burke said he would be willing to come back, but wanted a long-term contract in order to be able to attract potential sponsors.
Vice Mayor Marty Richman said even though he loves the motorcycle rally, Hollister is not in the entertainment business.
“We need to find a nonprofit organization to run it,” Richman said. “If we run it through a nonprofit organization it would run like clockwork.”
The clock is ticking as business owners take the lead to attract motorcycle riders to what they all know as the “Home of the American Biker.”
Holt said even though it appears some of the new Hollister council members seem to be in favor of holding a rally downtown, it isn’t going to happen this year and that’s why he and the others wanted to start promoting the Rebel Rally now. That way, not only locals, but bikers worldwide would know it’s going to take place.
“We want to keep the rally going,” Holt said. “It’s good for us and it’s good for the town.”
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