As hundreds of bikers and motorcycle fans rolled into Cottage Grove over the weekend, they did so with a great cause in mind. The third annual ‘Rebel Rally Rodeo” was held Friday and Saturday at the Cottage Grove rodeo grounds. The event features sixty camping spots, twenty-six vendors, fifteen bands that paly throughout the weekend, a bike show, a bike Rodeo, and a beer garden. All proceeds go to benefit veterans and in the past has raised as much as $20,000 and everybody volunteers.
“We started this three years ago, we were just going to throw a party and have a good time. We decided let’s do it for a cause. So we picked ‘Tribute to Fallen Soldiers Northwest’ to raise money for and did it with a friend in a field. It was a huge success, everybody had a great time and appreciated it. It felt really good” said president of the event, Jeremy Hunsaker. “The first one was about 300 people. Last year we came out here (to the Cottage Grove Rodeo grounds) and there was 600 or 700 people.”
Event organizers planned for nearly 1,000 people for this year. While it’s not the typical rodeo many might think of off the top of their minds, it has its similarities.
“It’s just like a horse rodeo but on Harley Davidsons” said Zack Mclaren, vice president of the event. “We race barrels and have different fun games. It’s almost identical to a horse rodeo. Minus the bucking off and landing, sometimes. It’s barrel racing, plank races, slow races, among other stuff. We spread it out throughout the day with live music between everything.”
“My big thing is telling people, you don’t have to own a horse to go to a rodeo” said Hunsaker. “You don’t have to own a bike to come to a bike rodeo. Just come, it’s entertaining, we have a lot of good times.”
While Hunsaker was never in the military himself, he and Mclaren wanted to find a way to help veterans in need.
“My grandad was in the navy, my dad was in the navy, and I should have. I was going to but I made some bad choices when I was eighteen so this is my opportunity to give back. I can’t go back to eighteen to change that, so going forward I can help out” said Hunsaker.
While many funds for the Cottage Grove event are raised through individual ticket buyers and small donations, it also had over 30 businesses and organizations that donate towards the cause.
“Primarily our money comes in from our sponsor’s. We got a lot of big sponsor’s this year that help us put this together. We also try to keep the cost down so people will donate a little bit” said Mclaren.
Mclaren and Hunsaker also held a poker run during ‘Rhody Fest’ back in May starting at Three Rivers Casino and going to several local bars in Florence to raise funds and bring awareness to the rodeo held in Cottage Grove. They had 275 bikes participate.
“We are gathering anyone and everyone. There is a huge group from Coos County here as well as Bend, Portland, Roseburg. We hit pretty far” said Hunsaker. “We try and focus on people who have about a two hour from out of town out ride in. It’s a good range. It’s a good ride in and a good ride home.”
The rodeo closed Saturday night around 1:30 am with one of the many live music performances that occurred over the weekend. They then held a benefit breakfast Sunday morning. But while there is much to enjoy about the Rodeo, Hunsaker has a particular favorite moment.
“My favorite part of this is the ride in. Saturday at noon We have the police and fire department escort the motorcycle ride in from Bohemia park. We do the national anthem and the pledge of allegiance. We then talk about who we are supporting with this. It’s very touching.”