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Rally set to kick off Aug. 15

In less than two weeks, South Second Street will be lined with Harleys, Victories, Triumphs and the like as the 2013 Rally on the River roars into Ironton.

This year marks the 10th year for the three-day festival of bikes and bands, hosted by the Friends of Ironton civic group.

The rally runs from Aug. 15-17 and in conjunction with a few patriotic events that organizers say will bring in tens of thousands of visitors to Ironton.

Jane Griffith, FOI secretary, said that last year, about 40,000 to 50,000 people went through the rally gates, and the group expects even more this year.

“With the American Legion bringing the Vietnam Memorial and the Ohio Flags of Honor, and we are bringing in the MIA/POW dragster from California, you’re talking about a lot of people,” Griffith said.

Ironton aLive members are also encouraging local businesses to participate during the weekend of the rally to increase their sales.

Jon Ferguson, executive director of the community organization, said the promotions committee of the group has put together a visitors guide with a map and list of area businesses. The map will be handed out at the rally gates.

“A lot of times, businesses get frustrated, especially with this event, because they feel like it shuts them down and keeps their customers from getting to them,” Ferguson said. “There are millions of dollars of revenue to be made when events like this come to town and it’s all a matter of thinking outside the box in ways they can be a part of that revenue stream.”

Vendors begin arriving the evening of Aug. 15 to set up and the rally grounds downtown will open at 11 a.m. that Thursday. The music starts at 3 p.m. each day of the rally with events scheduled throughout.

This year, Griffith said, vendors will be set up on Washington Street so Second Street can be used for through traffic and parking for motorcycles only.

“Everybody loves to go and look at all the motorcycles,” Griffith said. “The past couple of years we didn’t have the space. We’ve done a lot of rearranging.”

Another event not seen for a few years is the American Motor Drome Wall of Death Thrillshow where spectators will watch professional bikers perform acrobatic riding on the inside wall of a round wooden structure. The first show starts at 1 p.m. Aug. 15 with shows all weekend.

A popular tradition, the poker run, will begin at noon Aug. 17 and leave from the Ro-Na parking lot. The ride is 62 miles led by Bikers for Christ. The ride will stop for a break at Hog Heaven BBQ restaurant in Willow Wood.

Registration for the ride begins at 11 a.m. Aug. 15, 1 p.m. Aug. 16 and the day of the ride at 9 a.m.

The Parade of Heroes will begin at 5 p.m. that Saturday and be led by the American Legion Post 433. The ride departs from the Ironton Hills Shopping Center.

Friday of the rally will feature a bike show at Ironton Hills. Registration starts at 5 p.m. and the show runs from 6 to 9 p.m. There is also a car cruise-in during that time.

As always, bands will perform on the stage near the former Austyn’s restaurant. Bands to perform are Geneva, Nonpoint, Pop Evil, Get the Led Out, Puddle of Mudd, Earth Quakers, Hellyeah and Shooter Jennings.

The Ro-Na Theater will open its new bar to the public during the rally. The green room, accessible from the Second Street side, will also be open as a general store, selling T-Shirts, hats, biker pins, water and soda.

Rally hours will be 11 to 1 a.m. Admission is $15 for access all three days.

In addition to the various campground sites, the Friends will open up the Ironhouse Riverside Campground on the Ohio River bank just down from Center Street Landing.

The cost is $50 for an 18-foot by 40-foot site, or $25 for a 15-foot by 15-foot site.

The campground is limited to 200 sites with a maximum of six people per site.

In addition to the events going on at the rally grounds, Ironton Hills will be bustling with activity as well.

The American Legion Post 433 has organized for the Ohio Flags of Honor to return to Ironton this year, as well as The Moving Wall, a half-sized replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Opening ceremonies for the two displays will be 7 p.m. Aug. 15.

The FOI also arranged for a 1955 Chevy Dragster tribute car with the names of all the POW/MIA soldiers from the Vietnam War.