After months of back and forth between the Town of Franklin and the Tourism Development Authority (TDA) regarding the location of the August Biker Rally dubbed, the “Smoky Mountain Rumble,” the TDA hopes to have found a solution.
The rally, which has been slated for Aug. 17- 19, is now set to be held on property on US 64 East near the 441 interchange, the site of the Shriners carnival and several Gem Shows. Event promoter Sylvia Cochran attended the special called TDA meeting last Wednesday to announce that property owner James Vanderwoude has agreed to rent the site out for the rumble at a rate of $500 per day.
“I am really excited for Franklin and for this event,” said Cochran. “We have had a lot of phone calls from people wanting to sign up as vendors or for information to attend the event.”
The location of the motorcycle event has changed from downtown Franklin to the Watauga Festival Center at the bottom of Cowee Mountain, and then to the US 64/441 Interchange, but has hopefully found its home.
Nearly a year ago, the TDA originally unanimously voted to sponsor a three day motorcycle rally, and provided promoters, Sylvia and Scott Cochran, with $14,800 of TDA funds to kick off the first ever event in Macon County. Although the idea of the event was approved a year ago, no set plans had been brought before the Town of Franklin until April, at which point the Cochrans requested to close Main Street for the three day event. After town officials expressed their concern of the legality of closing the roads for that amount of time, the promoters began exploring other options.
Cochran informed the TDA board that she anticipates that 25-40 vendors will be set up during the event, and all vendors and music events will be in the one location. Among the vendors will be the Franklin Area Chamber of Commerce. According to Cochran, the chamber has agreed to host an information booth to encourage bikers to venture into Franklin.
Since the event will be held so close to the 441 interchange, providing bikers easy access to the highway, TDA board member Matt Bateman asked Cochran of what she plans to do to push for bikers to venture into town to spend money at local businesses. According to Cochran, she is working with Appalachian Angels to organize a treasure hunt that will guide bikers to downtown Franklin.
Bateman also raised questions about the event's website being incomplete. “I am little concerned about the website, like the lodging for example,” said Bateman. “It is May and lodging and restaurants still say “coming soon.” Do you think we can have some stuff down by our next meeting [June 11]?”
Cochran noted that it was difficult to completely finish the website without a set location identified, but as soon as the final papers get signed, the website will be updated. “It is hard to give people all that information when it isn't set in stone yet,” said Cochran.
She also noted that with vendors and attractions constantly being added to update the event, it wasn't likely that the website would ever be completely finished.
According to Cochran, she plans to have the official entertainment lineup announced before June 11, and says that a lot of the entertainment will be local musicians.
Alderman Bob Scott attended the special called meeting on Wednesday afternoon and said that his reservations with the event are caused by the lack of a plan on the promoters’ part. “They still have no plan for the event,” said Scott after the meeting. “I want to know why the TDA has bought into this without knowing anything about who stands to gain anything from this event. Who stands to receive any revenue from it? It doesn't make any sense to me.”
At the request of Summer Woodard, town representative during the meeting, Cochran agreed to have the website more up to date and ready for members of the TDA to view at the next regularly scheduled meeting.