Updated: Rally manager, HDA director discuss long-term deal

Vicki Comtois, from Campbell, takes off her helmet embellished with a horse's pelt after parking her '97 Fat Boy Harley Davidson in the middle of San Benito Street downtown during the Hollister Motorcycle Rally.

Despite a rich history, Hollister’s motorcycle rally has been plagued by inconsistency in recent years. In early 2006 and late 2008, Hollister officials canceled the city’s signature event – which drew an annual attendance nearing 100,000 for the three-day gatherings – largely due to skyrocketing security bills and losses to the general fund.
The new rally manager and Hollister Downtown Association last week, though, took a big step toward repairing that record of inconsistency.
North Carolina-based Worldwide Dynamics and the HDA signed a five-year agreement to partner in overseeing future Independence Day motorcycle rallies.
The move, in the works for weeks, solidified a commitment to holding a Hollister Rally for each of the next five years. It also designated the nonprofit HDA as a primary liaison between the private manager and city. Worldwide Dynamics and the HDA have both confirmed the deal, which they officially agreed to Thursday.
Worldwide Dynamics – run by Mark and Yvonne Cresswell – managed the Hollister Rally this year and dealt directly with city officials. It was the first Hollister motorcycle rally in five years for a city known as the “Birthplace of the American Biker” – a tradition sparked by the 1947 Boozefighter-led invasion of the rural town and the first sanctioned Hollister rally 50 years later.
In a county particularly damaged by economic misfortunes in recent years, leaders in business, government and nonprofit sectors have widely lauded the event’s return. It is too early, meanwhile, to know any precise figures relating to the economic impact from this year’s two-day rally.
The Cresswells, excited about this year’s rally drawing packed crowds Friday and Saturday, are looking ahead to the 2014 event and beyond, including the possibility of expanding it to three days. The move with the HDA solidifies the event’s stability for the coming years – particularly important for sponsors, vendors and bikers planning their trips around the Independence Day event – and allows the manager to have a year-round voice in working with the city and providing information to the public.
“We need to show for sure that this isn’t just a hit-and-miss and whenever-we-feel-like-it type of event,” Mark Cresswell said. “When you attach the rally to an existing organization that’s here year-round, there is that continuity.”
Although the Cresswells say they will have an increased presence in Hollister – they put together the 2013 rally in about six months – they maintain a busy schedule working at many other rallies and motorcycle events through the year, such as the Sturgis Rally in early August.
In finding a year-round partner, they wanted an organization that was proven and could act as a liaison between the manager and city regarding rules and regulations, and one that could help involve nonprofits and other groups.
“They’ve got years of experience in doing different types of events,” Cresswell said of the HDA. “They know who to work with. They can at least make those recommendations.”
One of the HDA’s biggest events of the year, the Street Festival & Car Show, is set for Saturday. The HDA also puts on the popular Lights On Celebration in late November.
Brenda Weatherly, HDA executive director, said the organization and rally manager will reexamine the contract – and the two organizations’ roles – every year. She said the HDA can help with necessary meetings and public outreach, and she underscored that the group is here year-round. Weatherly said the rally “greatly affects” downtown.
“It’s really important to our board to be a part of how it’s shaped into the future,” she said.
It is unclear how the relationship might affect the HDA’s staffing, but Weatherly anticipated it would probably increase hours for the events coordinator. She hopes it might be an opportunity to build revenue and staff.
“It just gives our community a guarantee that this event is here,” Weatherly said. “I know it’s important to the motorcycle community for that type of commitment. It’s more attractive to the people that we want to have here.”

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