Although it failed to bring the numbers organizers anticipated, the Thunder Mountain Ride bike rally also failed to deliver the problems police feared.
Tricked out motorcycles crowded Green Valley Park — and so did police officers. An officer was rarely more than 10 feet upwind from a biker, which could account for the only arrest — for possession of marijuana.
Payson Police Chief Don Engler said the festivities yielded only a few more calls than a normal weekend. “There were seven accidents with only one involving a motorcycle (tied to the event),” he said.
Judy Baker, executive director of Mogollon Health Alliance, said the rally was extremely successful, especially for a first-time event. Volunteers spent the past six months organizing the event, in hopes that it will become an annual fund-raising staple for local charities.
Although the final tally is still out, Baker estimated 7,000 people showed up for the event Saturday and 1,200 entered the motorcycle drawings.
“Every vendor was extremely happy with the event. Some came from Iowa and California and all said that this is a real motorcycle rally,” Baker said. “For the first time, they said they were really impressed.”
Several vendors, who wished not to be identified, said they were unhappy with organization at the event and the turnout.
One vendor said he was never told when or where to set up and was left to figure it out on his own.
own. Another was told there would be more vendors and was disappointed to only see 20 vendor booths.
Vendor Ken Crump, owner of Mental Images metal smith, said he had a great time at the event and enjoyed listening to the music and meeting so many bikers.
“I have never been to a bike rally before. I love being around any group of people who like the same thing. When they get together it is always a great thing,” he said. “For a first-year show at an unproven venue, I am a hometown boy and if I don’t support this then who is?”
Baker said by Sunday, most of the kinks had been worked out and all the vendors “said they wanted to come back.”
The MHA expects to break even on the event. Many businesses reported a boost in sales but others said they did not do as well as they thought, Baker said. On Saturday night, all of the motels in town were full.
Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce Manager John Stanton said motorcycles filled nearly every motel’s parking lot. “It is too early to tell the economic results,” he said. “However, all of the restaurants said they did extremely well. I hope that they came up and saw a nice little place for a ride and that they will come back and buy,” he said.
Although the chamber extended its hours for the event, Stanton said only three bikers came in for information.
Besides one arrest at the event for possession of marijuana, Engler said only one other event attendee was arrested, this time off site. John Jennings Foy, 57, was arrested on charges of extreme DUI, assault and disorderly conduct.
Foy got into a confrontation with a group of juveniles as they walked across the street at the intersection of Highways 87 and 260. “We don’t have all the facts about who started the discussion,” Engler said, but at some point, Foy and the juveniles began arguing.
According to police, Foy got out of his vehicle and started choking one of the juveniles who struck Foy in the face. Several citizens driving stopped and got involved, trying to break the altercation up.
Police arrived and arrested Foy.
Payson Police Sgt. Dean Faust said law enforcement prepared well in advance for the event, stationing eight officers from the PPD at the event in the park with another 10 officers from outside agencies.
Some 80 riders rode from Home Depot to Mormon Lake on Saturday, 60 riders rode from Safeway to Heber and 100 rode from Payson to Roosevelt Lake without incident.