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Wharf Rat Rally gearing up for 14th annual weekend Aug. 29- Sept. 2

<p>Digby’s downtown was once again full of bikes, bikers and motorcycle fans Saturday, Sept. 3.</p>
Wharf Rat Rally- File Photo

The Wharf Rat Rally is gearing up for the 14th annual rally set to take place Aug. 29- Sept. 2.

Event organizers are busy preparing final details of the rally but one thing they can’t prepare for is the weather.

“The weather is one of our main concerns because if it’s raining, no one wants to be outside,” said Laura Simmons the executive director of the rally.

Last year it didn’t rain during the rally, but it was cold and cloudy. Simmons remembers the rally in 2013 when it rained on and off all day. This caused organizers to cancel events, which ended up taking place anyways because the rain would stop within 15 minutes.

“As soon as the rain stopped, the bikes started flooding in,” she says.

Per the rally’s statistics, they figure 74 per cent of those who come to the rally are from Nova Scotia, so if it rains those visitors will wait until it stops raining before coming to Digby.

The other 26 per cent are from out of province. Those visitors have accommodations booked in and around Digby, so no matter the weather they will show up.

The province released an economic impact statement in May announcing the Wharf Rat Rally provided an economic boost to the provincial economy by $4.9 million.

According to a media release issued by the Wharf Rat Rally Motorcycle Association, the study consisted of three parts.

Staff from the rally and the province issued survey questions during the rally, where a team of volunteers asked visitors to complete the questions and other volunteers counted visitors as they entered parts of the town.

After the rally, the Paradign Consulting Group compiled the results into a report that was returned to the province and the Wharf Rat Rally motorcycle association.

The study showed that the percentage of out-of-province visitors was up slightly from 24 per cent to 26 per cent, and that the total boost to Nova Scotia’s economy had risen from $4.2 million in 2011 to $4.9 million in 2017.

However, the Wharf Rat Rally Motorcycle Association has no way of determining if this year will be as successful or more successful, until the weekend actually happens.

“We always hope for the best, but the weather definitely helps,” says Simmons.

Organizers would like to remind the public that registering during Rally weekend helps the organization make money.

Whether visitors are biking, walking, or driving a vehicle, paying the $10 registration fee goes directly back to the Wharf Rat Rally.

Visitors can register at the Welcome Centre at Tim Horton’s on Warwick Street or at the tent set up across from the Wharf Rat Headquarters.

There are some new activities to keep an eye out for this year.

The Royal Canadian Legion is sponsoring the beer tent which will be located at the Digby Marina.

On Saturday Sept. 1, the rally is bringing back the Light the Night ride. Motorcycles will be lit up with strands of lights, riding through town at 9:15. After arriving downtown, prizes will be given out for the best decorated bikes.

On Sunday Sept. 2, there will be a Maud Lewis tour for bikers. Riders will travel to the Maud Lewis Replica House in Digby, then do a loop back to the Maud Lewis Memorial Site and then visit her burial site.

Christina Billings a professional stunt women, will be on site all weekend preforming on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The rally will host movie nights throughout the weekend downtown. The location is still being determined, but organizers hope to project the movies onto the side of a large truck.  They will show two movies a night.

There will be many returning events like long term care facility rides, biker games, live entertainment, custom builders, and vendors on Admiral’s walk.

The Wharf Rat Rally takes a full year to plan and none of these crowd-pleasing events would be possible without the support of the Wharf Rat Rally Motorcycle Association, the volunteers, the town and municipality, the surrounding municipalities, the province and the many sponsors who help out year after year.

“Our team leaders take on the total responsibility of individual areas such as site set-up and tear-down, Rat Rod’s craft beer and cider tent, our registration areas, our traffic control and they are each supported by a team of 50 wonderful people who sacrifice their last long weekend of the summer to help the Rally,” said Simmons.

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