Motorcyclists and anyone else interested in charities and the outdoors will be able to soak in the "world-class roads" and "great history" of Fort Smith early next month.
The fifth annual Steel Horse Rally will be held May 3-4 in and near the downtown Fort Smith area and will include motorcycle rides, live music, motorcycle racing, the Mayor's Salute to Veterans Fireworks Demonstration, food in the Bier Garten, the Bird of Prey Show, the Steel Horse Rally Shootout, the Steel Horse Rally Parade, a motorcycle show, the Steel Horse Rally Bikini Contest and more. The rally raises money for local charities and is an multi-event gathering that draws about 100,000 people to Fort Smith each year, said Dennis Snow, president for the rally.
"Well really, we're excited about all of it, truth be told," he said of the event, which will raise money for the Buddy Smith Home for Veterans, the Children's Service League, the Fort Smith Museum of History and Antioch for Youth & Family. "Each year, we try to make the Steel Horse Rally better for the community and better for the charities we help."
This year's rally will include the Steel Horse Rally Concert with Fuel, Messer and Beitthemeans May 4 at Harry E. Kelley Park, 121 Riverfront Drive. Fuel is known for the rock songs "Innocent," "Shimmer" and "Hemorrhage (In My Hands)" and has toured with Aerosmith, Kid Rock and others.
Messer and Beitthemeans also will impress when they take the stage for their respective, energetic sets, Snow said.
"We are glad that we are moving the entertainment back down by the river, which will allow us to have more people attend and participate," he said. "People will get to experience the multi-platinum band Fuel, and Messer and Beitthemeans also are great bands."
The Steel Horse Rally Bikini Contest also will be held at Harry E. Kelley Park on May 4, as will the Mayor's Salute to Veterans Fireworks Display, Snow said.
"The Mayor's Salute to Veterans Fireworks event is a nice new touch for the Steel Horse Rally," he said. "It's great to be working in conjunction with them for the Steel Horse Rally."
Fort Smith Mayor George McGill also is anticipating the fireworks demonstration and the rest of the upcoming rally.
"We want people to know that this won't be the Mayor's Fourth of July Fireworks, but it is a demonstration to say, 'Welcome to Fort Smith,'" McGill said. "We are really excited about having close to 100,000 people visit our city for the Steel Horse Rally, and we're excited that it's a time for the city to put its best foot forward.
"We want people to see our riverfront area, which is a treasure that we have here in Fort Smith," he added. "The rally has really grown over the last few years, and we want people to enjoy the rally and Fort Smith, so they will return to Fort Smith time and time again."
Gates for the May 4 concert/fireworks portion will open at 4 p.m. Advance tickets are a charitable donation of $15, with VIP meet-and-greet packages available for a charitable donation of $99. Tickets can be purchased at SteelHorseRally.com. Tickets will be $20 the day of the event, Snow said.
"I'm not really the type of guy that likes to throw out estimated numbers for attendance, but the rally does keep growing each year," he said.
Last year's Steel Horse Rally was estimated to have a local impact of more than $17.8 million, according to rally officials.
"And we'd like to raise as much money as possible for our charities," Snow said. "Antioch for Youth & Family is a great organization that does a lot of great work, and the Children's Service League helps children who are in the schools."
The Buddy Smith Veterans Home and the Fort Smith Museum of History also are worthy charities and will benefit from this year's gathering, he said. The former helps veterans "get back on their feet and obtain a normal lifestyle," while the latter continues to preserve Fort Smith's "wonderful" history, Snow said.
"The Fort Smith Museum of History will have the motorcycle show on the morning of May 4, and they will have their 'Motorcycle Memories' exhibit that is impressive," he said. "And Garrison Avenue will be closed and for motorcycles only from Fifth Street to Immaculate Conception Church beginning at 6:30 p.m. May 3, and Garrison Avenue also will be for motorcycles only beginning at 9 a.m. May 4."
The site of numerous motorcycles lined up along Garrison Avenue during the rally is among the most rewarding aspects for Snow.
"If you look at downtown areas in other towns, and then look at Fort Smith, Garrison Avenue is this wide, beautiful street," he said. "And you'll see something new this year. It's called the Steel Horse Rally Taxi, and that is all I can say about it at this moment. People will have to see it for themselves."
Those seeking more information on the rally can email info@TheSteelHorseRally.com or visit the Steel Horse Rally Facebook page.
"You can feel the spirit of the Steel Horse Rally starting to float through Fort Smith now," Snow said. "Again, all of this is exciting. This is fun for the entire family."