Preparations for the 37th annual Red River Memorial Motorcycle Rally start months before Memorial Day weekend for the friendly alpine village of Red River, according to town …
Preparations for the 37th annual Red River Memorial Motorcycle Rally start months before Memorial Day weekend for the friendly alpine village of Red River, according to town historian Fritz Davis and Jessica Cisneros, the Red River Visitor and Conference Center coordinator for the Town of Red River Tourism Department.
Cisneros said, "This event is a town event, and the Red River Tourism Department is the brains behind the planning. We start around the first of January. This includes reaching out to vendors, social media, music lineup, Busted Knuckles Stunt Tour, Steve Stucker׳s Rally in the Valley and flag retirement ceremony."
The Red River Memorial Weekend Motorcycle Rally is today, Thursday, through Monday (May 23-27) in the town of Red River, located on State Road 38 in Northern Taos County along what is known in these parts as the Enchanted Circle.
Memorial Day is a federal holiday designated for remembering marines, soldiers, airmen and sailors who died while serving in the nation's armed forces.
The festivities begin today at 12:01 a.m. and end Monday, May 27, 11:59 p.m. Dusty boots, sweaty denim and leather-clad women and men on motorcycles will descend on the main street for music, dancing, late-night revelry, good food, and a heartfelt salute to the men and women of the armed services.
The Red River Memorial Day Motorcycle Rally will feature live music at venues all over town, and every day vendors set up with an array of handicrafts and mementos. Davis said in the past there have been rock concerts- "One year Steppenwolf performed."
This year, the '80s heavy metal band Warrant and Lita Ford (former lead guitarist for The Runaways) are on the schedule. Cisneros added, "For the first time in the history of the Red River Memorial Motorcycle Rally, we will build outdoor concert grounds next to the Red River Conference Center to house concerts."
Warrant is set to take the stage Friday (May 24), preceded by Bones of Romeo and Poo Live Crew at 5 p.m. Lita Ford and her band will perform Saturday (May 25), preceded by Hartless and Katy P & The Business at 5 p.m. The shows were produced by LMNOC Broadcasting of Taos.
Davis said the town is expecting 12,000 to 15,000 to attend the rally this year. The occupations and backgrounds of the bikers include: "firemen, lawyers, software execs, pro football players, senators, an insurance salesman."
It's a big weekend for veterans and military. In Red River, veterans "meet, drink coffee, talk and attend the services at Angel Fire [Vietnam Veterans Memorial]. And they all remember the price [paid for our freedom]."
Davis continued to say he's looking forward this year to "the sound of high compression motors" and "good people are always welcome in Red River, dressed in cowboy hats or boots and black leather."
Cisneros added, "For the last two years I have really enjoyed the Busted Knuckles Stunt Tour - they put on a great show. They will perform in the town's municipal lot on Saturday and Sunday, at 1:30 p.m. and again at 5:30 p.m., on both days. It's a show you really don't want to miss," she continued.
"Last year, we [brought] out the Traveling Vietnam Memorial Wall. It was an honor and a humbling experience to be a part of," she said. "To see firsthand all the lives lost, and all the veterans that came to pay tribute to their fallen brothers literally took your breath away. We hope to have it back again in future years. This year, VFW Post 3259 of Taos puts on a special flag retirement ceremony on Saturday (May 25) at 11 a.m. in Brandenburg Park. This includes a color guard ceremony, flag presentations, national anthem, the Pledge of Allegiance, flag retirement ceremony, a 21-gun salute and taps."
Although no formal discount specials are offered, the Motherlode Saloon at 406 East Main Street and the Bull O' The Woods Saloon, across the street at 401 East Main, will have live music throughout the rally. The Motherlode will have several biker-themed contests and giveaways.
Here are some highlights for the weekend.
• Today, Thursday, starting at noon until 6 p.m. vendors will open in Brandenburg Park, Jacks and Sixes, River Street and Red River Conference Center.
• At 6 p.m. there will be live music with Mike Addington and a special guest at the Lost Love Saloon.
• Then at 7 p.m. Eryn Bent will perform at the Red River Brewing Company.
• From 8-10 p.m. there is an annual free brisket dinner for veterans, first responders, law enforcement and vendors happening at the Motherlode Saloon.
• Then later in the evening starting at 9 p.m., live music onstage with the Otis Watkins Band performing the Motherlode Saloon.
• Friday (May 24) from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., vendors return to Brandenburg Park.
• Going on from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., there will be a mixture of music in the park and live music at the Motherlode Saloon.
• Starting at 3 p.m., Saturday, Otis Watkins takes the outdoor stage, followed 5 p.m. with the "just good music" vibes of CappTon Reid on the outdoor stage, followed at 7 p.m. by Matt O'Ree on the indoor Stage.
• Later at 10 p.m., Otis Watkins Band lights up the inside stage.
• Sunday (May 26), the ride and biker registration happens at the Motherlode Saloon and later from noon to 2 p.m. there will be judging for the bike show. There is music all day at the Motherlode and Bull O' the Woods Saloon. The day closes with a special vigil service for MIA and POW ceremony at Vietnam Veterans Memorial State Park, Angel Fire.
• The weekend concludes Monday (May 27) with a flag march starting at 9 p.m. from U.S. 64 to the Memorial Day Ceremony at Vietnam Veterans Memorial State Park Amphitheater near Angel Fire.
A detailed schedule is available at redriver.org or by calling the Red River Chamber of Commerce at (575) 754-2366.
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