SALISBURY, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – An old Rowan County tradition is back this year, bringing thousands of bikers to the area.

The annual SmokeOut Rally will return to the Rowan County Fairgrounds this weekend after being forced out 12 years ago.

The purpose of the SmokeOut Rally, which is celebrating its 22nd year, is to bring like-minded motorcycle enthusiasts together to appreciate unique and homemade bikes. Thousands of people from around the country are expected to attend.

“Beginning of June, this was half a frame hanging from the ceiling. And I built it in eight weeks,” said rally attendee John Reule, who traveled on his homemade motorcycle from Washington State.

Reule, just like almost everyone attending the rally, has a story.

“It leaks a ton; it’s got a bunch of problems. I built it like this because I’m half-crippled already. So, I don’t know, it’s an extension of myself,” said Reule.

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Rally organizers say after several years of hosting the popular motorcycle event in Rowan County, county commissioners voted to revoke SmokeOut’s liquor permit. That led them to take their business elsewhere. For the past 11 years, they’ve been hosting the rally in Rockingham, NC, but organizers say they’ve always wanted to come back to Salisbury.

“It’s like when you graduate college, and you’ve been out of it for ten years, and you go back for a football game, and all these memories come back. You’re flooded with all these memories. That’s exactly how I feel right now,” said former rally organizer Greg “Edge” Scheuer. “It’s not that wild; everybody’s just having fun. Well, it’s a little wild.”


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People like Seth Towle, who owns a concessions business, say it’s about time this event made its way back to Rowan County. Though he’s based in Columbia, SC, he travels to Rowan County for fairground events about five times each year.

“It’ll help us economically. It brings all those people back in here; it gives me a chance to sell my products,” said Towle.

SmokeOut kicks off Thursday and runs through Sunday.

The rally will feature live music, bike shows, games, racing, contests, and awards.