If you want to hold a weekend long party for a couple thousand of your friends, you had better be organized: you will find that it’s a lot of hard work having fun. The organizers of the Crossroads Motorcycle Rally of Vermont know this well. They have learned to work together and have fun, while organizing a complex event with volunteer labor.
The Rally is a weekend long affair, running Friday and through Sunday. There is a vendor area, a beer tent, and onsite camping. Live entertainment is a major draw, with bands on Friday night, Saturday afternoon and Saturday night. This year, they are planning a major car and bike show as a new attraction. Each year, the committee varies the lineup to keep it fresh.
“Everything – right down to the toilets – is important”, said Candi Brunell, a rally committee member. Every component of the rally requires organization and follow-through. Camping, for example, requires permits, trucking in water and daily cleaning of twenty-two port-o-lets. There is no onsite electricity, so a generator large enough to power amplifiers, PA system and stage lights is needed. Security and traffic control require coordinating local police and outside contractors.
Sponsorship is important to their success. “We don’t have any money to work with, so we have to get sponsors to donate,” Candi said. Sponsors have been generous with the Rally. “People help out – it’s the Vermont way – people being decent and supportive,” she said.
Fundraising provides the remainder of the money needed to bootstrap the event. The group holds a Calcutta, a bike wash and various raffles to raise seed money for permits, advertising, insurance and deposits. In all, an estimated $10 thousand dollars is required to get the gates open each year.
How it Began
The Rally grew from the void created by the demise of the Mad Rally in Waitsfield. “The [Flying Hogs] Riding Group started it”, said Ted Brunell, President of the Flying Hogs. “The Mad Rally had stopped and we were looking for something to take it’s place”, he said.
The Mad Rally lacked camping, which The Hogs viewed as a major drawback. “There wasn’t any camping at the Waitsfield rally and we really wanted there to be some way for people to camp”, Ted said.
Ted and his wife Candi own a shop in Waterbury and chose Farr’s field on US Route 2, near the intersection of Vermont Route 100 because of it’s central location. “We wanted it to be at the crossroads of Vermont. Motorcycling involves all different kinds of people, from every walk of life, and we wanted it to reflect that,” Candi said.
Once the idea was set in motion, the organizing committee formed and began to meet. It was about a year between the group’s first meeting and the first rally. The committee has met every two to three weeks ever since, checking on progress, discussing ideas and covering new business.
Ultimately It’s Teamwork
I attended one of the committee’s meetings, held in the “Hog Pen” – the Flying Hog’s private club above Ted’s garage. The group runs smoothly with a Roberts Rules, “old business”, “new business” formality on one hand, and good-natured heckling that breaks into warm, loud laughter on the other. Clearly, this group enjoys each other’s company while getting work done.
“It’s been very much a learning process,” Candi said. The committee is continually looking for ways to improve the rally and is very open to feedback. Starting right after the rally, “We talk about what we did wrong and how we can make it better,” she said.
It’s the quality of the committee that makes it all work though. “We have good people involve,” Ted said. “People you can trust – who will do their job – people you can count on.”
Getting People There
The rally draws people from all over the northeastern United States and Quebec. In the first two years, there have been registrations from as far away as Pennsylvania and Ohio.
We hope to see you at the 2012 Crossroads Motorcycle Rally!
“One of the challenges we’ve had is – we’re in the media, people know about us far-and-wide – but people in our own area don’t seem to know about us,” said Chris Wood, Treasurer. “We really want to get a base, right here, locally in New England.”
To get the word out to local riders, the group is holding a bike night the third Wednesday of the month in May, June and July at Mulligan’s pub in Barre. They are also attending local HOG club meetings, dealer events and bike nights around the state.
This year’s Crossroads Motorcycle Rally is July 20 – 22, in Waterbury VT (see below for a link to this year's rally). The headlining bands are Cry Havoc (Friday night),Willie Edwards Blues Band, Jimme T Thurston (Saturday afternoon) and North East Xperiment (Saturday night). There will be a car and bike show, vendors, a body painting contest and Ms. Crossroads contest. This year’s rally will benefit the Make a Wish Foundation of Vermont. For complete information, see the posting in the Event section.
The Crossroads Motorcycle Rally of Vermont Committee is: Camie Brunell, Candice Brunell, Sue Walker, Brian Houghton, Ted Brunell, Randy Walker, Bill Phelps, Rob Maxfield, Tonya Cher, and Chris Wood.
The 2014 Crossroads Motorcycle Rally is July 18th-19th. See the event posting for more information.