by Annette Barnette
Buckhannon -- An annual West Virginia event that attracts thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts is traveling to Upshur County.
Organizers of the Country Roads Motorcycle Rally formally announced Monday they have moved the event's headquarters from Snowshoe Mountain Resort in Pocahontas County to Buckhannon.
"We've received very positive feedback about the venue change. We think Buckhannon is a great place for the event," said Tom Spruill, co-creator of the rally.
Spruill, a former Buckhannon postmaster, discussed the event at Monday's Buckhannon-Upshur Chamber of Commerce lunch meeting.
Scheduled for July 18-21, the rally will coincide with the Upshur County Fair, bringing opportunities for a dual tourism draw county officials are pleased to see.
"We've been meeting with the Fair Board members to coordinate ways they can benefit from the motorcycle rally, too," said Mary Duncan, president of the Buckhannon-Upshur Chamber of Commerce. "It's a real opportunity to show the world Buckhannon."
Laura Cocoltchas, chamber executive director, said the rally will also drive in positive impacts for the local economy.
"Each person who attends the rally will spend an average of about $75 a day at local businesses while they're here," Cocoltchas said.
Law enforcement officials also have been in on some of the event's pre-planning meetings, although chamber officials said the event was considered a well-behaved one during its two-year stay in Pocahontas County.
Spruill said the move is related to Upshur County's easy access to Interstate 79 and Buckhannon's variety of motels, campsites, restaurants and motorcycle dealers. The rally will be based at Buckhannon's Hampton Inn and Upshur County's National Guard Armory.
The geography is also a plus.
"All mountain destinations -- including Seneca Rocks, Canaan Valley and the New River Gorge -- are an easy ride," said Spruill.
Spruill has been organizing the rally with his son, Mark Spruill, and their friend, Joe Parsley. He said the event attracts people from all over West Virginia as well as several other states and continues to grow.
"We had 2,000 people attend the first year. The second year, more than 6,000 people attended. About 20 percent of them actually registered for the events, while the other 80 percent just showed up," Spruill said.
More information about next year's rally is available by calling 1-877-WVRIDER, by writing P.O. Box 4068, Clarksburg, WV, 26302-4068, or by visiting www.bikeweekwv.com.