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May 30, 2024

Agenda: City considers cancelling Hollister motorcycle rally

The Hollister City Council on Monday will formally consider canceling the 2018 Hollister Independence Rally motorcycle event.

An item on the agenda notes the consideration of a formal cancellation. In previous years, the city has canceled the sanctioning of the event due to disagreements with promoters, while thousands of motorcyclists have shown up regardless to celebrate Hollister’s biker lore.

The rally is the city’s signature event and draws tens of thousands of motorcyclists each year, but has been plagued by an on-again, off-again status when it comes to sanctioning by the city.

Mayor Ignacio Velazquez, long a proponent of the rally, previously warned of the possibility for a cancellation in light of talks with the promoter, Roadshows based in Nevada headed by Randy Burke.

Velazquez indicated there were issues with sponsors leading up to the event traditionally held on or near the July 4 weekend in downtown Hollister. The rally in the so-called “Birthplace of the American Biker” commemorates the 1947 “invasion” of bikers into the sleepy town and the documented, albeit overblown, riots that ensued.

“We’re telling this guy you’ve got to make a decision,” Velazquez told San Benito Live in early February.

Velazquez at the time said if Burke wouldn’t promote the rally, the city would turn toward trying to find another organizer.

The mayor pointed out he still supports the rally but it needed to be done “safely” and at a fair cost to the city.

He mentioned how in the 1990s and 2000s the rally worked well because it had been run by a nonprofit organization, the Hollister Independence Rally Committee.

“ I think the reason it worked so well with the hirc committee back then is nobody was doing it to make a profit,” he said.

Monday’s meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. at Hollister City Hall, 375 Fifth St.

Neither Velazquez nor Burke could be reached immediately.

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