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Digby revs up for one of Canada’s largest motorcycle rallies

One of Canada’s largest motorcycle rallies takes place this weekend in Digby, N.S. 

The 19th annual Wharf Rat Rally runs until Sunday. It was started by local businesses in 2005 and has been attracting motorcyclists and spectators since.

RCMP expect up to 50,000 people to descend on the town of about 2,000 people.

“We’re looking forward to really good weather and a lot of motorcyclists,” said event manager Rick Allwright.

Allwright expects participants from across North America. He said the majority come from Nova Scotia, but some will journey from as far as California. 

RCMP are gearing up for the event with an increased police presence. 

“Our main goal, our main objective is public safety,” said Sgt. George Cameron, Digby RCMP commander, adding that there will be an extra nine to 12 members in the area to monitor traffic.

Cameron said the rally pulls in resources from other parts of the province, but minimally. 

This year’s rally is the second since it was cancelled for a couple of years due to COVID-19 restrictions. Allwright said he’s expecting more crowds and vendors. 

“It becomes a bit of a pilgrimage for a lot of motorcyclists. It’s the largest rally in Atlantic Canada and it just seems to be a destination.”

He said the sense of community that the event provides is a big draw for motorcyclists. 

A 1.2-kilometre stretch of Digby’s main street is closed to everything but motorcycles and foot traffic. 

“It definitely takes over sections of town,” he said. 

Hotels in the area have been full for months and restaurants and local shops are expecting “a huge, huge weekend,” Allwright said.

“It really goes into creating a significant end-of-the-tourism season event for the businesses in the area and it provides a huge economic impact for the area that couldn’t really get any other way.”

Steering forward

Allwright said this is the first year he’s taken on the event management for the event, where he is learning a lot and enjoying the ride. 

“We’re gearing up for our next year … our 20th anniversary,” he said. 

He said this year’s success is building up to next year’s events. 

Some additional activities involve a circus act, Highland Games, Harley Davidson demo rides and food vendors. Fireworks will be held on Sunday night to wrap up the event. 

Source: CBC