Watonga will soon have another yearly event to look forward to as the Watonga Bikes & BBQ Rally has begun its planning stages.
John Morris and Warren Hock are putting on this event, and they spoke about the plans they have in store for the event, which will take place May 7-8.
From live entertainment to events for children, both Morris and Hock hope to include something for everyone of all ages.
Planning for an event like this takes time, and the next meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday.
Info on the planning meetings and anything else relating to the event can be found on the official Watonga Bikes & BBQ Facebook page.
The Watonga Republican was able to talk to Morris and Hock on where the idea of the event came from and what residents can expect. Here’s what they had to say.
What was the idea behind this event? How did it come about?
Hock: We have a major intersection of two highways cutting right through Watonga. The amount of motorcycles that come through Watonga anywhere from May to September [is high]. We’re just far enough from the city to make it a good ride, but we’re not so far out that it’s too far to go to. We’re just looking at another way to revitalize and bring more people into Watonga and get them to spend their money here since they’re already driving through anyways.
What can people expect to look forward to during the event?
Hock: We’re expecting a family friendly event with motorcycles on display, live entertainment, food, vendors, arts and craft vendors, and a BBQ cook off competition. The Blaine County Roundup Club will also be hosting a rodeo in the event at the fairgrounds that weekend.
What do you hope to get out of this event?
Morris: Like [Warren] said, we’re trying to bring something in to revitalize Watonga as well as make people understand that Watonga is something more than just that place you go through to get to Roman Nose.
Hock: When it’s over, we would like to see what profits are made and put as much of that money as possible to give back to different children’s organizations and the community itself. I would like to see some of this money being dispersed back to our graduating seniors. That’s one thing about having it when we’re going to is that it’s just before graduation. We could look at, if we’re able to with the right amount of money, give out a few scholarships for college but also give out scholarships for those going to trade schools.
What does the biking community around this area look like in terms of size?
Morris: There’s a lot of bike owners within just Watonga as well as Blaine County. I’ve met more and more bikers the harder I work on this. They just keep coming out of the woodwork honestly. As far as bikers that come to Blaine County, though, there’s a strong attraction to Roman Nose, Red Rock, or parts like that that they can just ride into and hang out for lunch. We have upwards of a hundred bikes a day come through town during the riding season. There are always bikes coming through town.
Hock: There are over 120,000 registered motorcycles in the state of Oklahoma and all these different riders are always looking for something else to do so we figured, why not take advantage of a good situation?
How does an event like this compare to something like the Watonga Cheese Festival?
Morris: Something I’ve learned is that it’s hard to say the first year. On Facebook, you could have 2,000 people say they’ll show up but then only 50 people come. If we have 100-150 bikes, I think we’ll be doing really really good. With the coming years, it's gonna get a whole lot bigger, but the first year I wouldn’t say [it’ll compare to the Cheese Festival in terms of size].
Hock: We’re doing a complete 180 on it as far as the time of year compared to the Cheese Festival. May is when the weather starts getting nice and everyone starts knocking the dust and cobwebs off their bikes that have sat in storage all winter long. We just wanted the opportunity to turn around, bring all these people into town, generate revenue for Watonga, and create another event for Watonga and see how far it will grow.