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Rally for a Reason (Wisconsin Dells 2016)

Monday, June 26, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Heidl Goehring, #181764
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Additional photos, including photo on MOA front page, by Stephen Reinke #211433

We've all heard it. “The cheapest thing on a BMW is the nut that connects the handle bars to the seat.“ On the weekend after Labor Day in 2016, BMW riders proved this to be a myth.

The forecast was iffy a week before the 46th annual Wisconsin Dells Rally for a Reason sponsored by the Wisconsin BMW Motorrad Club. It was the club's first year at a new location and nerves were on edge. The Dells Rally was once the premiere rally in Wisconsin. This year, preregistration was at its lowest and the forecast wasn't helping. The club needed riders to show up at the gate to pull this event off. They had planned for everything they could, but nobody knew if riders would show up in the rain.

The club's volunteers were at the site Wednesday, setting things up and moving some of the heaviest picnic tables in the world around to make space for tents. Four inches of rain Tuesday night and Wednesday morning waterlogged Camp Wawbeek and the surrounding areas, so it was muddy and setup proved a tricky task. A friend of the club volunteered to build fire pits off the ground to avoid damaging the grass at this beautiful location and they were being set in place. The Lions Club arrived with their beer trailer, which got positioned near the band pavilion.

The work continued on Thursday as members set up the beer tent, registration, signage and more. A few early arrivals came in - a sign of hope. Everyone prayed that the beautiful weather on Thursday would last the weekend.

Friday started out dreary and worsened. We watched the weather forecast and hoped the rain would stay to the north as predicted. For the most part, they did, but we still got some rain ... followed by some sun ... followed by pouring rain, then mist, then sun, then rain. As of noon on Friday, only 12 people had registered at the gate. Rally Chair Brian Manke was beside himself, muttering, “I ordered too much food for Saturday's pig roast. The club is gonna kill me. We are going to take a hit this year.“

The pouring rain came back and the sky was looking black in every direction. Volunteers at registration and hospitality had nothing to do but chat amongst each other. Every so often one would use a smart device of sorts and check the weather. “It's looking like it's heading north!“ “No, this report shows it coming our way.“ The usually cheerful moods were truly dampened. Then, despite the pouring rain, the BMWs started rolling in.

Rain-soaked riding apparel and muddied boots came walking in the doors of Van Wei Hall to register. Spirits lightened as greetings flowed to the guests. Some waited for the rain to stop before finding a place for their tent. Others just signed up for the bunk space still available and decided to leave their tents packed up. They kept coming in - bike after bike and rider after rider. Club volunteers greeted them all, giving them rally packets, mugs, maps of the camp and rally central, and a chance to dry out inside a heated building.

The beer tent opened at noon and got hopping between bouts of rain. The dinner bell at the dining hall rang shortly before 6 pm to let riders know the hot dogs and baked beans were now being served. The band loaded in and was preparing to play some good old rock-n-roll. Riders were still coming in! Healthy skin color and a normal breathing pattern returned to the rally chair.

It was just after 11 p.m. when our final Friday arrivals rode in. A father and son, both rally virgins, were soaked and ready to dry out. We were able to get them into a couple of bunks for the night and told them registration would re-open at 8 am.

We awoke to a light rain on Saturday. The Easter Seals organization served breakfast in the dining hall, and many took advantage of having biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs, bacon, and fresh fruit available on-site for $5. The rain became sporadic and then stopped by late morning, giving rally central some needed dry-out time. There was still plenty of room in the quiet camping and overflow camping areas despite the interesting way the RV campers parked to ensure no one got stuck. Another couple dozen or so riders rolled in and registered.

Many chose to explore the area on their own. Several opted for the gorgeous organized ride filled with twisties and a great BBQ chicken stop for lunch. Some just hung out on rally grounds, taking their kids to the carnival, playing bingo and checking out the non-motorized field events. It turned into a rather nice day.

As people returned to camp from wherever the day's festivities took them, the caterer showed up. Piggies Delight outdid themselves! The dinner bell rang at 5 pm and riders started lining up for some of the best roasted pig and grilled chicken I've ever tasted. Also served was some delicious cole slaw, potato salad, and mostaccoili. I know it sounds weird to have an Italian dish at a pig roast, but it was phenomenal!. Dessert was fudge-filled brownies!

After dinner, volunteers started tearing down some of the tables to ensure enough seating for the awards. Brian Manke scurried around getting final numbers. Attendance was 357 riders, which meant the club would turn over a check for $3,570 to Easter Seals. Renting bedroll spaces raised an additional $1,640. After Brian got done with the announcements, a rider from Texas handed him a $100 bill and said, “Make that $3,670 to Easter Seals!“ All in all, it looked like the “Rally for a Reason“ raised over $5,000 for Easter Seals

After the awards ended, everyone headed for the pavilion to hear the band – Mostly Water – picking up a beer or soda from the Lions Club along the way. Mostly Water played a diverse assortment of music to a crowd that cheered and chanted “one more“ when they tried to end the show. Two encores later, they finally shut down for the night. Tuckered club volunteers took up seats around campfires or in the beer tent and breathed a sigh of contentment.

Sunday morning was bright and sunny, absolutely glorious for a ride home. Everyone in the club was busy with cleanup and pitched in doing whatever needed to get done so they could mount their steeds and enjoy their rides home. The duty was to leave the camp in the same condition the club found it in - but they did better! There was no indication that 357 pairs of muddy boots tromped across the carpeting at registration or visited one of the many flushing restrooms available on-site. For the most part, the camp was cleaner than when we arrived.

The week after the rally had the number crunchers tallying the final results. Here's the BIG DRUM ROLL ... between the Easter Seals breakfast, donations, the portion of the rally fee ($10/person) and 100% of the bedroll space rentals, the Rally for a Reason netted Easter Seals over $6,600. Having the Lions Club run the beer tent earned them $1,800. The 50/50 money raised went to the Kilbourn Volunteer Fire Department. The first Rally for a Reason resulted in just under $9,000 for three great charities! The club even made a little for their kitty, too.

I’m going to follow the lead of another Wisconsin club, the Port Washington BMW Club, who each year challenges other clubs to donate $100 to the MOA charity selected for each year's national rally. This year, I'd like to challenge each and every club out there to look around your event location and see if there isn't an opportunity for you to do some good in your communities. Maybe it's a Boy or Girl Scout camp. Maybe your local Lions Club has a liquor license and can take on the burden of handling the beer tent. Check it out! Let's spread our BMW MOA name and favored brand around and become known as bikers who care. As Brian Manke stated, “It feels really good to be writing a check to Easter Seals instead of some big business.“

Thank you to the Wisconsin BMW Club for a wonderful weekend and making a difference for some truly worthy charities! It was a pleasure to be a part of the 2016 Rally for a Reason. See you next year - I'll be back!

There's already information available for the 47th annual Wisconsin Dells Rally, which will be held 8-10 September 2017 at Easter Seals Camp Wawbeek, 1450 State Hwy 13, Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin.


Rally Chair Brian Manke


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