Street Vibes scrubbed; some bikers still Reno-bound

Annual fall festival is latest victim of COVID-19 pandemic

PHOTO/LARRY GEVERT: Motorcycles parked outside the Silver Legacy Resort in Reno during Street Vibrations in 2018.

The annual Street Vibrations fall motorcycle rally scheduled for Sept. 24-27 has been cancelled, but some riders say they’ll be rolling into Reno next month anyway.

“We’ve got rooms and we’re coming,” said Cory Sundquist of Folsom, Calif., who said he and a few friends have made the trek to Reno for the festival over the last several years. He said he has vacation days approved by his employer and isn’t worried about traveling during the pandemic. “ …You can’t get more socially distanced than on a motorcycle,” he said.

Even with Street Vibration’s entertainment events cancelled, and even if Washoe County bars are still closed next month, Sundquist said there’s still plenty to do in Northern Nevada. Riding mountain roads or cruising desert highways is a first priority, he said. And “the casinos are open, so that keeps you busy.” He said participants will find ways to party: “We’ll improvise.”

Other people who commented about the cancellation on social media pages also said they’d still be making the pilgrimage to the Truckee Meadows in the fall. The rally traditionally brings more than 50,000 motorcycle riders to the area and has an estimated $114 million in economic impact, according to the promoters.

County health officer urges caution

There’s no way to gauge how many riders may show up in the absence of an organized event, but health officials said all visitors, whether they arrive on two wheels or four, should be careful to abide by state and local safety requirements so as not to  exacerbate the spread of the virus.

“Given the all the unknowns of COVID-19, the health district is certainly concerned with increased gatherings, whether public or private, as it can lead to increased risk of disease transmission,” said Kevin Dick, district health officer for Washoe County. “Gatherings have been a strong source of COVID-19 clusters in Washoe County. We ask that anyone visiting the area exercise personal responsibility and do their part to prevent transmission of disease.”

South Dakota health authorities and those in other states are tracing cases of the virus connected to the Sturgis motorcycle rally earlier this month, which attracted 460,000 vehicles over 10 days, according to the Associated Press. That annual gathering, where participants reportedly often ignored safety precautions, ended Aug. 16. It’s too early to determine whether the festival may have sparked a major outbreak. Researchers have said the full impact of the event may never be known due to the difficulty in tracing out-of-state travelers.

PHOTO/VISIT RENO-TAHOE: Motorcycles parked in Midtown Reno last summer.

Although Street Vibration’s spring edition had been cancelled due to the pandemic, organizers had avoided scrubbing the Reno fall rally until Aug. 20, but did so after city officials denied the organizer’s application for a special event permit. Washoe County is rated as having an “elevated risk” for COVID-19.

“We had met all of the (COVID-19) criteria for special events until we got down to the governor’s mandate of no outside gatherings to exceed 50 people,” said Randy Burke, president of  Roadshows, Inc., the event’s producer.  “That pretty much put the nail in our coffin.”

Fall rally rescheduled for next year

He said the fall event has been postponed until Sept. 23-26. His team looked at downsizing the event and moving some activities to an area outside of Washoe County, but there was no way to make such an adjustment work.  He said he is aware that some people who planned to attend Street Vibrations may travel to Reno anyway.

“We have no control over that,” Burke said. “But if anyone is planning a party that requires a permit it will be denied.”

““The Reno-Tahoe area has some of most beautiful scenery for motorcycle riding in the world and we welcome everybody and anybody. Come enjoy Reno, Tahoe, Virginia City and Carson City. But ride safe and free, and social distance and wear a mask…”

— Randy Burke, president of Roadshows, Inc.

The motorcycle rally joins a long list of Northern Nevada events that have been cancelled because of the pandemic, including: the Reno Rodeo, Hot August Nights, Burning Man, the Nugget Rib Cook-Off, Dragon Lights, the Great Reno Balloon Race, the Reno Air Races and several Virginia City events scheduled for fall.

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