Campgrounds around Austin, Texas, are swelling with campers in advance of the 18th annual Republic of Texas rally this weekend.
The Travis County Exposition Center is expected to pull in 40,000 motorcycles for the 18th rally, which starts today. It's the biggest event of its kind in the state and the fifth-largest in the country, and event promoters say it has an economic impact of some $36 million each year, according to the Austin American-Statesman.
Dealers have mixed feelings about the rally. They host bands and barbecues that help boost apparel and gear sales. Central Texas Harley-Davidson, for example, is having a 2012 Rock Rally with rock band Vallejo. But they aren’t official rally sponsors.
"The investment (ROT promoters) ask for and the return you receive is not worth putting $15,000 or $20,000 into it," Rick Van Vleet, marketing manager for Central Texas Harley-Davidson, told the newspaper. "It seems smarter to just say ‘screw it' and put on a big old party ourselves."
It’s just the opposite at Cowboy Harley-Davidson of Austin. "We sponsor it every year," said Winter Green, marketing director at Cowboy. "I know there are mixed emotions out there, but for us we don't want ROT to go anywhere else. It's our Super Bowl. In three days we do in the clothing department what we would do in a month. We don't want to lose that."
Posted by Holly Wagner
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