Hollister City Council members talked about this year’s toned-down Rebel Rally event to be held over the July 4 weekend and offered more insight on prospects for the return of a full-blown motorcycle rally.
The council Monday heard a report on plans for a “Rebel Rally” at the Veterans Memorial Building in downtown Hollister. With the official Hollister Motorcycle Rally canceled the past couple of years, there are still smaller events held over the July 4 weekend. Corbin Motors and Russ Brown are sponsoring the Rebel Rally festivities for a second straight year, while Corbin will hold festivities at its location as well.
Hollister last held a sanctioned motorcycle rally in 2017 when Nevada-based Roadshows Inc. promoted it for the city. The city has canceled and revived the rally several times since the 1997 50th anniversary event that got the annual event rolling and drew crowds estimated at over 100,000 attendees some years.
With four new council members on board, it appears there’s potential to revive the rally once again, as every council member and the mayor have expressed varying levels of support for it.
More likely for 2019, however, the city won’t sanction the event since the holiday weekend is just five months away. As for the Rebel Rally, City Manager Bill Avera explained it will be “very similar” to the event last year that drew crowds but nothing near the tens of thousands of bikers who show up for the official rally with San Benito Street closed off and vendors lining the road.
Inevitably, the Rebel Rally discussion led officials to talk about the sanctioned version.
“We would request that any promoter set it up the way we’re used to setting it up,” Avera said Monday.
He broached one of the sticking points about the event, which is that Hollister offers to cover workmen’s compensation liability for outside officers as a way to ensure the city can recruit necessary security personnel.
“One of the things the City of Hollister takes complete onus of is the workmen’s compensation for outside agencies,” said Avera, who mentioned that’s a city policy.
The city has looked into insurance prospects, but finance official Brett Miller spoke Monday and said workmen’s comp necessitates paying out an injured officer’s salary for two years right off the bat.
“That almost makes it cost-prohibitive for insurance people to insure that group of individuals,” Miller said.
Council members chimed in on the rally as well, with Marty Richman reiterating his stance that the city needs to have a nonprofit run the event like what happens for the Sturgis rally or at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. He said the local government running the event has led to “terrible mistakes” such as thousands lost one year when the city tried to sell T-shirts.
“Because we’re not in that business,” Richman said. “We’re not in that business.”
Councilman Rolan Resendiz said he supports the biker rally and wants it to succeed through a “sustainable model.” He said he would support some type of resolution declaring the city’s support over the long term.
In the short term for 2019, meanwhile, Avera compared booking of the city-owned Veterans Memorial Building to someone reserving the facility for quinceaneras or other private events, as it doesn’t require a public gathering permit.
Going forward beyond 2019, though, Mayor Ignacio Velazquez, a staunch rally supporter, said he spoke to the most recent promoter and was told the company is willing to come back. After that conversation, though, Velazquez said it’s likely too late for a sanctioned rally this year.
“He’s absolutely willing to come back,” said Velazquez, referring to Randy Burke from Nevada-based Roadshows, the company that put on the last rally in 2017.
Velazquez said one of the promoter’s concerns is not having a firm long-term deal so he can convince larger sponsors to stay on board. The mayor said he hopes to have a deal in place this year so the promoter can get started on a 2020 event.
The item on Monday’s agenda was just a report so there was no action taken.