Selwyn Harris / Pahrump Valley Times - Nye County Sheriff Tony DeMeo (left) along with Golden Gaming General Manager Jeremy Jensen and Roadshows Inc. Randy Burke addresses the town board on security concerns for a proposed motorcycle rally next year. Board members voted 3-2 to approve the event scheduled for June 20-22.
The Town of Pahrump will officially be the venue for a popular motorcycle rally next summer.
Town board members on Tuesday voted to approve the event during a special town board meeting at the Bob Ruud Community Center.
The wording in the motion to approve stated the town will provide a sum not to exceed $38,700 for the exclusive rights to sponsor the “2014 Base Camp to Adventure Rally,” scheduled for June 20-22.
Attached to the deal is an agreement to search for local business sponsorships for the event and future events.
Roadshows Inc. is touted to be one of the largest event producers of motorcycle festivals in the United States.
Pahrump Town board Chairman Harley Kulkin spearheaded the event along with Roadshows Inc.’s Randy Burke.
The company is best known for “Street Vibrations,” a motorcycle rally regularly held in Reno, Sparks, and Virginia City each year.
Burke and Roadshows Inc. have worked for more than 18 years producing special events, including Midnight at the Oasis in Arizona, the Festival of Lights in Palm Springs, Calif., Big Bike Week in Redding, Calif., and the 110th anniversary Milwaukee Rally.
Kulkin, an avid motorcycle enthusiast, who owns a few Harley-Davidsons, said the event will be a nice economic boost for the town.
“We have to do things differently. What event brings in the most people and what are the biggest events in this state? It’s ‘Hot August Nights’ and ‘Street Vibrations.’ They are probably neck and neck in how many people come to each one of those and Laughlin comes in second. They bring tens of millions of dollars into the community in just over a weekend. What we have been doing in the past does not work and it’s time to step outside the box and try something new,” he said.
Kulkin did not enjoy across-the-board support for the event.
Nye County Sheriff Tony DeMeo, himself an avid rider, wanted to put the brakes on the event.
DeMeo, a motorcycle owner for more than 30 years, referenced the “Laughlin River Run” event more than 10 years ago where members of the Hell’s Angels motorcycle club violently confronted members of the Mongols club over vendor merchandising, resulting in three deaths.
The Laughlin event was not a Roadshows Inc. sponsored rally.
“I don’t have a problem with motorcycle rallies per se,” DeMeo said. “As a law enforcement officer, I can look back at some of these events that have caused the State of Nevada some ire and it’s still talked about every year when that rally comes around,” he said.
The sheriff mentioned a 2011 rally in northern Nevada where one person was killed after a fight erupted.
DeMeo said the Street Vibrations event created a state of emergency after local law enforcement in Sparks were forced to call neighboring agencies to assist after chaos broke out.
“City officials had to suspend the event. They had to have a huge law enforcement presence. The cities of Reno and Sparks combined their manpower along with the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office. The Laughlin mishap was a tri-state response to deal with the issues that that brought about,” he said.
As a response, Burke said the sheriff has an archaic view of motorcyclists while pointing out that today’s bikers should not be compared to the notorious biker gangs of the past known for violent behavior.
He recalled the time when the Hell’s Angels were hired by Rolling Stones to provide security for an infamous concert in 1969, where a fan was stabbed to death during a brawl.
Burke says many of his associates are professionals who enjoy an occasional weekend ride.
“I think that’s part of the mystique of motorcycling. During the weekend at big events, some of the doctors, lawyers and candlestick makers kind of embrace that bravado of lore. It has kind of carried on from year to year that the bikers are big and bad, when in reality, it couldn’t be further from the truth. This is not Altamont, but we would like to book the Rolling Stones,” he said.
Board member Dr. Tom Waters said Burke is held in very high regard by both vendors and participants of Roadshows events.
“Just about any event that draws tourists in is an economic boost for Pahrump. Roadshows is a very organized company and has a lot of legitimacy behind them. As long as the town benefits from it, so much the better,” he said.
Town Manager Susan Holecheck did not appear as enthusiastic to have the event in Pahrump.
Her concern focused mainly on the costs involved.
“I know this is something near and dear to the chairman. I will say, however, I do believe that sponsorship of events is better achieved by our hotel casino properties and by the private sector. We can look at different funding mechanisms. I would hesitate to dip into tourism dollars,” she said.
Jeremy Jensen, general manager of Golden Gaming Group, appeared to embrace the idea of a possible partnership for the event.
“Would we be willing to sponsor this event? Absolutely. Anything to drive tourism into Pahrump, we are going to support,” he said.
Town Vice Chair Bill Dolan noted the importance of having additional sponsorship for the event from the community.
“I would hope that our good community partners would stand up and relieve the town of that obligation. The town has six months to work it all out,” he said.
Dolan pondered exactly where in town the event would take place while cautioning that nothing yet has been set in stone.
“I would think Petrack Park but that’s just a guess on my part,” he said.
Dolan, Kulkin and Dr. Tom Waters provided the 3-2 majority vote to approve the rally. Board members Bob Adams and Amy Riches cast votes against the proposal.