SmokeOut Rally brings motorcycle lovers from all over to Rowan County

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 9, 2023

SALISBURY — The SmokeOut Rally began over two decades ago at the Rowan County Fairgrounds as a way for the motorcycle community to come together and celebrate the custom motorcycle culture. Eventually, owner Greg Scheuer decided to move the event away from Salisbury and to a new location in Rockingham. In 2022, however, a new pair of organizers brought the event back to its roots in Rowan County, and they celebrated their second year back in SmokeOut’s home over the second weekend in September.

“So many people are back, because it was away from Salisbury for a while, and a lot of people didn’t want to come. So everybody here’s so happy to be back in Salisbury because no matter where you go everybody’s so friendly, so kind. You know what I mean, they’re happy to have us,” said Athena Ransom, a featured builder in the weekend’s gallery.

The gallery Ransom is featured in is part of the free portion of the event. Inside the indoor facilities at the front of the fairgrounds is the Legends Gallery, which includes the Builder’s Invitational, where custom motorcycle builders from around the nation congregate in Salisbury to show off their bikes.

Builders included in the gallery include names such as John Jessup, Chris Callen and Johnny Humphrey, among around 20 other names. Ransom is the first female to be a featured builder in the 22-year history of SmokeOut.

“I had never pressed them to print it or anything. And my daughter is a photographer and she did all of the photos. For the holidays, I said all I want to give her for Christmas is that I wanted to see her pictures in print. And Chris goes, ‘I’ve been meaning to put them in the magazine,'” said Ransom about getting her motorcycle featured in the Cycle Source magazine, which is also owned by the Callens.

Inside the gallery, there will also be motorcycle gas tanks that have been decorated and donated by different artists. The “Tankful” gallery will be part of an online auction that SmokeOut is holding to raise money for Meals on Wheels. According to Heather Callen, who organized the event along with her husband Chris, 100 percent of the proceeds from the auctions will go towards Meals on Wheels, with around half going to Rowan’s organization.

Tickets to get into the full rally were sold online before the event, and Callen said that between what they have already sold and gate sales in the past, she is expecting over 4,000 people to attend the event.

Between Friday and Sunday morning, there will be constant concerts, bike shows and mini-bike races inside the fence of the fairgrounds. Saturday, at 9:30 p.m., there will also be an induction of two new members to the SmokeOut Hall of Fame.

At the end of the event on Sunday, there will be a bike blessing after a church service and a free pancake breakfast where donations will for Meals on Wheels will be accepted

“Everybody that’s here, it’s purely for the love of the craft. There’s no competition here between these guys which is kind of refreshing. There is a bike show inside there, but it’s a lot of hugging,” said the Legends Gallery curator, Randy Nodge.