The Mother Road Rally ended Sunday and many visitors enjoyed the weekend, yet attendance figures fell short of projections touted by marketing surveys.
Sherry Anaya, a chief organizer of the rally, said on Sunday that nearly 500 people had paid admission, but rally organizers revised that figure later to a little over 1,200 paid admissions based on the number of registration packages handed out. Anaya said she was disappointed that the attendance figures were down from projected estimates.
“The marketing surveys let us down a bit, said Anaya. “They had projected anywhere from 2,500 to 3,500 visitors to the rally.” The rally organizers were in good spirits Sunday morning even as many of the rally’s vendors were already packing up to leave. Glen “Bear” Whitener, another of the rally’s organizers, said the Mother Road Rally will learn from their first experience at organizing a large event. “We are going to sit down and have a meeting very soon to discuss what we need to do to make it better next year,” said Whitener. “A lot of us heard rumors about a lot of people who said they were going to come to the rally. Some of those rumors may have been inflated.”
Anaya, said that, above all, people had fun at the rally.
“We all had fun,” she said. “We learned a lot, and we will continue to learn.” Some of the vendors complained that the $15 per person admission to the rally kept many locals from attending. Candice Carnes operated a clay figurine booth at the rally. She said $15 was too much to charge for such an event. “I wish we had more locals come to the event,” said Carnes. “The high price of admission deterred visitors.”
Anaya said the Mother Road Rally cannot afford to lower the admission price. “We are going to stick with the $15 admission,” said Anaya. “We have to pay the entertainment costs. I’ve been to other rallies that charge similar prices or even higher.” Jimmy Cain, who operated a booth at the rally called “Cowboy Taters,” said he, like other vendors, wished more locals had come to the rally. “I would have liked to have seen more locals,” said Cain. “$15 a head is too steep a price to pay. People who aren’t motorcycle owners don’t want to pay $15 to look at a bunch of motorcycles.”
Cain said that in his experience as a vendor, he has noticed that lower admission costs draw more locals to events.
“Charging an affordable admission price brings more families in,” he said. “The event’s organizers make more money because many more people show up. The organizers here got the word out. They did a good job promoting the event, but $15 is too steep for local families.”
“Bear” Whitener said the rally paid for itself.
“We made enough to pay our bills,” said Whitener. “We even made some money for Five Mile Park. We will all sit down and discuss what went wrong and what went right. We will take a look at the price of admission.” Anaya said that one issue that will definitely be discussed is the length of the rally. “Next year we will almost certainly start the rally Friday evening rather than Friday morning,” said Anaya. “Saturday will be the big celebration day, and Sunday will be a wind-down day next year.” Robert Alarcon, owner of Trails West Lounge on East Tucumcari Boulevard, said his bar patrons had a good time over the rally weekend. “It went really well,” said Alarcon. “We didn’t have any problems. We did expect a bigger turnout, but everybody had a good time.”
Virginia Wright, Director of the Tucumcari Chamber of Commerce, said the rally’s organizers must press on with plans for next year. “The organizers, who worked really hard, must understand that the first year, the second or even the third year of a new event often will not meet attendance goals,” she said. “ The organizers have to keep at it.”