GREAT FALLS — The dust has settled from the BMW Motorcycle Owners of America rally, and businesses are busy recovering after a very successful weekend for the City of Great Falls.
Thousands of bikers from all across the country traveled to Great Falls for the event. The rally began on Thursday, June 24th, and ran through Sunday, June 27th, with events centered primarily at Montana ExpoPark.
Craig Johnson visited from Minnesota, and said there were several reasons he came to the rally. "The BMW crowd is a very good, very fun crowd to be around. The fact that it's here in Great Falls might've been right up there with that. We love it out here,” Johnson said.
With all the visitors in town, restaurants and bars were full, and hotel rooms all over the city were booked up, some even at max capacity.
“We were almost at 100% full house most days. We had a few no-shows, but other than that it was pre-Covid kind of summer travel numbers, so we were very excited,” said Sandra Thares, general manager of the O’Haire Motor Inn.
The BMW Motorcycle Rally was a unique opportunity for Great Falls, as the rally changes locations each year, and it could be a decade or more before the city can host the national event again.
The Visit Great Falls, Montana Tourism agency estimated that the rally would generate around $2.5 million for the local economy, based on numbers generated from tourism in 2019.
After more than a year of Covid restrictions, businesses in Great Falls are glad to finally start returning to their normal operations.
“On our end, it was very successful, we had a lot of people coming through and filled the hotel, filled the pub, it was fun to go around town and see all the motorcycles parked out in front of all the different businesses and see them driving all over the place, I saw them up in the Little Belts, I saw them out on the highways so, yeah I think they had a great time too, yeah lots of nice folks. It was good for Great Falls,” said Peter Jennings, owner of the Celtic Cowboy & Hotel Arvon.
Hotel owners say they’ve had to take some extra time turning down their hotel rooms after the rally due to some staffing issues, but they are all in good spirits, and eager to have tourists from all over the world come back to Great Falls.