By Jeff Martin
The wildly popular event featuring motorcycles and the charities that benefit from them will be held once again in the valley on Aug. 21–25 in Olean.
This is the 11th year for the Rally in the Valley, the proceeds from which benefit a variety of community charities and nonprofit organizations. The event lasts five days and puts a spotlight not only on the organizations that depend on the funds that are raised but also on the geographical area.
Bruce Wakefield, a Gowanda resident, said he’s ridden his bike in the event the past four years. He’s been especially proud to help with the Southern Tier Military Support Group.
As a veteran of the United States Army, Wakefield said riding a motorcycle throughout the Enchanted Mountains region is a special experience; riding a motorcycle through the Enchanted Mountains for a cause is even more special.
“A lot of guys do it for one reason,” Wakefield said. “Some guys do it for many reasons. It’s just nice to know places are being helped out.”
This may be Wakefield’s last year, however. A knee injury he sustained over the winter has become bothersome and he’s considering putting his bike up for sale after the event.
“It’s a little sad for me,” he said. “But it’s a good way to go out, I guess. Maybe I won’t sell it.”
At a Greater Olean Area Chamber of Commerce meeting back in winter of 2003, Dennis Jones, of Jones Realty in Olean, suggested holding a motorcycle event much like Gowanda’s Harley Happening. The first event was held that summer and has been going strong ever since.
The Greater Olean Area Chamber of Commerce, Gowanda Harley Davidson, and the Greater Olean Motorcycle Enthusiasts sponsor the event, but additional support goes much deeper. Community Bank, Country Inn and Suites, radio stations and other businesses have sponsored in the past as well.
In recent years, over $10,000 was raised for charities including the Southern Tier Child Advocacy Center, the Rehabilitation Center, Mercy Flight and others. Rally in the Valley has raised over $177,000 in the 10 years it’s been held.
Keeping it “family oriented,” the rally has become popular with those who attend the event.
Held at Bradner Stadium, each day of the event will be stacked with activities. Beginning with a motorcycle parade and free concert featuring a regional band, there will games, vendors, food, a street dance, contest and many other activities during the five days. Judging contests will feature best paint, best custom, best vintage, best trike, best touring.
New this year, the Rally event will include the Street Masters Car Show on Saturday in War Vets Park across the street from the stadium. You can get there via the tunnel that runs under East State Street.
The 130-mile dice run, which has grown in popularity over the years, caps the weekend’s events with $2,000 in cash and prizes. The run , which starts in Olean, wind its way along scenic Pennsylvania roads with stops at Byllye Lanes in Bradford, Barrel House in Kane, Two Mile Inn in Port Allegany, Model T Inn in Derrick City, and will end at Bradner Stadium.
During its early years, the event attracted about 2,500 people, according to other published reports. In recent years, the number has grown to over 6,000. The dice run alone has seen a huge increase in participation. In 2011, 1,000 riders participated, traveling over 113 miles.
For more information, including a complete schedule of events, visit www.oleanny.com, or call the Greater Olean Area Chamber of Commerce at 716-372-4433.