Labor Day weekend is upon the Four Corners, and for the past quarter century, that means so are the motorcycles.
On Thursday, gates open at 2 p.m. in Ignacio to the 25th annual Four Corners Motorcycle Rally, which draws thousands of people from all over the country.
There, attendees will be greeted by an Indian Motorworks demo fleet, zipline challenges and a slew of bands, which include Reverend Catfish, the Ben Marshall Band and Battlefield Grey.
Events in Ignacio, which occur at “Rally Central” at the Sky Ute Fairgrounds, continue through Sunday with entertainment staples, including motocross exhibitions, pin-up girl competitions, a “hot buns contest” and a battle of the bands.
Johnny Valdez, owner of the rally, said 65 events will be held through the weekend – and some new ones this year, including a mudslide and a dirty balloon contest, which “you have to see to believe,” he said.
The musical headlines of the weekend are Los Lonely Boys, the Ben Marshall Band, Third Time Charmed, Ralph Dinosaur and the Fabulous Volcanoes, and Thieves of Sunrise, among others.
In Durango, motorcyclists will descend upon town for a street party at 10th Street and Main Avenue from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and again from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday. There will be a breakfast from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Sunday to benefit Building Homes for Heroes at the Transit Center downtown and a parade down Main Avenue at 11 a.m. Sunday.
Then, there will be a Mayors Run, started by Ignacio mayors in years past, that takes motorcyclists from Durango to Bayfield, up to Vallecito and down to Ignacio, stopping at local partners along the way, Valdez said.
A city of Durango spokesman said the west 100 block of 10th Street will be closed from 2 p.m. Friday to 11 p.m. Saturday. Narrow Gauge Avenue will be closed to parking from 2 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Friday.
The parking lot of Durango Transit Center will close from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Sunday, and the entire parade route from Seventh Street to 10th Street on Main Avenue will be closed from 9:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday.
Live music and events will be held continually through the weekend at Durango Harley-Davidson, 750 South Camino del Rio.
Valdez, in his second year as the rally’s owner, said last year’s event taught organizers one big lesson: prepare for weather.
“We learned it’s going to rain, and you better be prepared,” he said. “But we got some tents together and some drainage issues resolved, and we’re going to roll with the punches.”
Valdez also stressed his return to making the event open and welcoming to the surrounding community, evidenced by countless charity benefit events.
One such charity is the Honor Bell Foundation, which rings a thousand pound bell at veterans’ funerals at Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver, as well as other veteran memorial services around the state at the request of families.
Dan Bender, spokesman for the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office, said motorists should exercise the utmost caution over the busy holiday weekend.
“Labor Day Weekend is the last big holiday of summer,” he wrote in an email. “It means there will be more people and vehicles of all types enjoying our area. For that reason everyone should use extra caution whether on roads or trails.”
Colorado Department of Transportation officials were not aware of any highway closures as a result of the weekend’s events.