Republic of Texas Biker Rally boosts local hospitality industry

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Gene Sanders examines the Free Masons patch on David Merth’s vest. ROT Rally, the largest motorcycle rally in Texas, aims to create an atmosphere of camaraderie for bikers nationwide.

Photo Credit: Emilia Harris | Daily Texan Staff

The 16th annual Republic of Texas Biker Rally starts revving its engine at the Travis County Exposition Center today and runs through Sunday.

ROT Rally, the largest motorcycle rally in Texas, started in 1995 with about 4,000 guests.

“This year, there are over 40,000,” said ROT spokeswoman Denise Garcia.

Musicians and entertainers including Hank Williams Jr. and Robbie Knievel have performed at ROT Rally in the past. This year, the Doobie Brothers and Eddie Money are among those performing at the rally.

“[The rally] becomes its own little city. It’s very unique,” Garcia said. “We have a tattoo expo for the first time.”

Garcia said Austin’s friendliness to bikers has contributed to the growing success of ROT Rally.

“The city has been cooperative,” she said. “Hotels and businesses are welcoming and biker-friendly, which keeps people coming back.”

This year’s rally is expected to have an economic impact of almost $35 million for Austin, said Julie Hart, vice president of finance and operations for the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau. Major events such as the rally bring revenue to the city’s hospitality industry because guests are likely to buy food, visit local attractions and need lodging.

Cedar Park resident Mark Jeske said he is attending the rally for the eighth time because the attitude and atmosphere are less strict than other motorcycle rallies he has attended.

“It’s a typical Austin environment — laid-back, as long as you stay within normal behavior,” Jeske said. “[At] Sturgis and Daytona, they’ll ticket you just for revving your engine.”

The vendors and music are also a big draw, Jeske said.

“The only negative is the heat,” he said.

 

Originally printed on 6/9/2011 as: Biker rally revs up economy offers welcoming