TUPELO – It took only one visit to the All America City to change two decades of tradition for the Gold Wing Road Riders Association.
After having its annual Mississippi District Rally in Biloxi for 20 straight years, the GWRRA decided to give Tupelo a try in 2009, and the motorcycle enthusiasts are coming back again.
Greg Harbison, district director for the Mississippi chapter of the GWRRA, said Tupelo’s hospitality is why the rally is back at the BancorpSouth Arena.
“Everybody loves Tupelo,” said Harbison. “We had people at first wanting to know why in the world we wanted to move it to Tupelo. They thought all it had to offer was Elvis’ birthplace.
“But once they get here they want to know when we are coming back. The people, the city and everyone has been great here. This is just the perfect place for our riders and members to come.”
The three-day rally hosts Gold Wing riders from all over the country. Last year’s event had riders from 27 states, according to Harbison.
The main mission of the GWRRA is to promote safety for riders and motorists. Riders will participate in safety courses and seminars over the next couple of days.
“This is all about rider education,” said Harbison. “We want riders to know the rules and how to ride as safely as possible. We also try to educate motorists about riding with motorcycles on the roads.”
Being able to enjoy the camaraderie of riders from all over the world is an extra perk of the rally, which ends Saturday afternoon.
William Armstrong and his wife, Leigh Ann, made the trip on their Gold Wing from Houston, Texas. The Armstrongs missed last year’s event but decided to give Tupelo a try this time.
“We have gone to the ones in Biloxi and just love the company of other riders and their spouses,” said William. “This is a good way for retired people to meet up and share a common interest. Many people see Gold Wings as a retirement bike and they may be right. But anytime we can get together and ride and talk about riding is a good thing.”
Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal