BMW Rally celebrates 27 years in Paonia

Photo by Ben Lehman, www.lehmanimages.com Paonia photographer Ben Lehman shot this aerial image of the BMW rally's Black Canyon Ride from Paonia to Hermit's Roost. The plane was piloted by Larry Garrett of Paonia. Garrett also donated a scenic ride to the

If you're out driving this week, be aware of motorcycles on the road. Lots of them. This Thursday the BMW Motorcycle Club of Colorado Top O' the Rockies Rally opens at Paonia Town Park. The rally officially runs Thursday-Sunday, July 18-21, but riders traditionally show up a day early.

The Top O' the Rockies Rally is the longest continuous rally of its kind in North America, as sanctioned by the Motorcycle Owners of America. Each year the rally attracts hundreds of cyclists, motorcycles and support vehicles to the North Fork Valley.

About 300 riders are pre-registered and another 300 are expected to show up, said local coordinator Bob Bushta. Live music, social events, meals, food vendors, a beer and wine garden and numerous activities happen throughout the rally. The event also provides local students and nonprofits an opportunity to earn money for their organizations.

The Paonia High School senior class will serve breakfast daily Thursday-Saturday between 6-9 a.m. at the Ellen Hansen Smith Teen Center at town park.

From 5-7 p.m. Friday, Kids Pasta Project will serve up a home-cooked pasta dinner at the teen center. Tickets are available at the door. Early arrival is recommended, as this dinner sells out every year.

The PHS junior class will also help with event setup and takedown, for which the BMW club will give a donation.

A bake sale to benefit the Abraham Connection in Delta will run throughout the event, and the Paonia Cherry Days Committee's Beer Garden will open daily at 11 a.m., with proceeds benefiting the Cherry Days festival.

The Paonia Lions Club will serve up its famous pulled pork dinners nightly. The Grinnin' Moose Grill will offer brats, turkey legs and other foods, and the Ice Shack will offer a variety of shaved ice items.

In addition, the beer garden opens at 11 a.m. Thursday-Saturday.

Thanks to rally registration fees, blues music will fill the park Friday and Saturday evenings, and the public is welcome. At 7 p.m. Friday, enjoy the dynamic blues-infused rock and soul hybrid sounds of the David Gerald Band. The band has played numerous notable festivals including the Chrysler Arts, Beats and Eats festival in Missouri, and the Springing the Blues Festival in Jacksonville, Fla.

Saturday evening, following the 6 p.m. closing ceremony at the park gazebo, Sammy Eubanks comes to town park. The runner up of the 2019 International Blues Challenge, Eubanks has been voted best male vocalist in the state of Washington 12 times since 1999 and as a hall of fame member of the Inland Empire Blues Society.

Other activities are happening throughout the rally, including a "straight talk with Colorado State Troopers" from 2-4 p.m. Saturday. (visit bmwmcc.org/tor-event-sched

ule/ for a complete schedule.

The public is welcome to check out the bikes and mingle with their owners, but is asked to stay out of their camping area for privacy and security reasons.

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