08 HogsNRags34th0POSTPONED 1For 14 years, the Hogs & Rags Annual Spring Rally has only gotten bigger and better. Already known as one of Eastern North Carolina’s largest motorcycle, car and truck rallies, organizers of this year’s event were taking it to even greater heights. They were adding more excitement and community involvement with a particular emphasis on honoring the thousands of military veterans living in the Fayetteville/Cumberland County community. This year’s ride was scheduled for Saturday, April 25, as part of the 39th Annual Fayetteville Dogwood Festival. Well, as most of our readers know by now, neither of these events will happen — thanks to COVID-19.

If you are not familiar with the Hogs & Rags motorcycle and car rally, it is Fayetteville’s premier charity fundraising event that supports three important local nonprofit organizations serving Fayetteville, Fort Bragg and Cumberland County. The Hogs & Rags Rally raises money for the local branch of the American Cancer Society; the Special Forces Charitable Trust Foundation, which supports our brave Special Forces soldiers and their families; and the Kidsville News Literacy and Education Foundation, which provides reading and educational materials (free of charge) to children in all Fort Bragg and Cumberland County Schools.

For 14 years, hundreds of motorcycle, car and truck enthusiasts, volunteers, sponsors and law enforcement agencies have come together in support of these causes to make this community a great place to live and work.

 Good things last, and this charitable event is no exception. Two of the original organizers of the rally are still active participants. It is the hard work, dedication and perseverance of people like Gardner Altman and Bobby Bleecker of Bleecker Automotive Group fame —  who have mentored the organization —that have enabled the event to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for these community charities. Their concept at the inception of the rally was to create a countywide event that was a win/win for everyone involved. Although the money raised benefited local charities, the other objective was to bring people and organizations together for fellowship in support of a common goal — to make the Fayetteville/Cumberland County community a better place to live, work, play and raise a family.

The objectives and success of this event caught the eye of another community-centric citizen, Tammy Thurman, Eastern North Carolina’s community relations manager for Piedmont Natural Gas. Seeing the impact the H&R event had on such a large segment of the community, PNG got involved by becoming the 2020 H&R presenting sponsor. Next year, PNG hopes to expand the charity ride to additional eastern Carolina cities. As the presenting sponsor, Thurman would have led the ride accompanied by two distinguished guests serving as the 2020 H&R Grand Marshals — the Honorable North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall and Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army Dan Dederick. Their dedication and contribution to our country, state and community are a matter of record, and their support of the rally is reflective of their goodwill, generosity and commitment to humanity.

We have an entire year to recover from this COVID-19 situation, so here is a sneak peek of what you can expect in 2021. The rally fun always begins with an official Hogs & Rags Welcome Party on the Friday before the event. This fun-filled meet-and-greet starts around 6:30 p.m. and is sponsored and hosted by Rodney Sherrill and his staff at Rodney Sherrill/State Farm Agency. This pre-rally party is a tradition filled with food, fun, fellowship and great music, featuring Fayetteville and Cumberland County’s most popular, talented, patriotic and award-winning band, Rivermist. Admission is free with registration.

The next day, Saturday, at 7:30 a.m., the action starts at the Airborne & Special Operations Museum. After registration, coffee and doughnuts, hundreds of motorcycles, cars and trucks will get into position as participants fellowship and greet the rally’s special guests. Opening ceremonies begin with a greeting from  Fayetteville’s mayor followed by a prayer and the Rivermist’s acapella rendition of the national anthem as the Special Forces Association Parachute Team performs a spectacular aerial demonstration while delivering a huge American Flag.

Immediately following the presentation of colors, event sponsor Fort Bragg Harley-Davidson’s local HOG Chapter Road Captain gives the safety briefing. Then it’s kickstands up, start your engines, and everyone sets out on the first leg of the rally, with a full police officer escort, which will end up in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

The first stop is Rock’n-A-Ranch in White Oak, North Carolina, where dozens of dedicated volunteers will have cooked up one of the most memorable and outstanding low-country Southern breakfasts you’ve ever had. It’s here that we again thank our rally sponsors and introduce our special guests. Then we are back on the road and headed to Myrtle Beach. After a short water break in Tabor City, we reach our final destination — Wild Wing Café in North Myrtle Beach. Here, the party starts as participants listen to great music and enjoy an awesome lunch as event organizers recognize the rally sponsors, give away prizes, have a live auction and announce the winner of our 50/50 and gun raffles. The raffle and auction items are outstanding every year and usually include three or four rifles and pistols, valuable artwork — like a signed and numbered limited-edition David Uhl HD painting — and our traditional exclusive one-of-a-kind handmade Hogs & Rags quilts. No one is ever disappointed.

Well, that’s the sneak preview of next year’s event. Will it happen exactly as described? Who knows? We do promise an experience you will never forget. Just remember, all the money raised each year stays here in Cumberland County and benefits local charitable organizations. Also, the Hogs & Rags Rally is an all-inclusive community event — this means cars, trucks and any kind of motorcycle you ride (on two or three wheels) is welcome. Everyone is invited. Come solo, bring a passenger — or the entire family — you will be among friends, and you will make friends while having the time of your life.

Next year, the cost of the ride will remain the same at $50 per person, and what a great value that is. You get to support three charities, fellowship at the  Friday Night Welcome Party with the live band Rivermist, partake in doughnuts and coffee, take home an official H&R T-shirt, enjoy a low-country breakfast at the Ranch and have a great meal and party at Wild Wing Café. There will also be door prizes, raffles and an auction. Wow! What’s not to like?

We missed you this year, but don’t miss us next year. Mark your calendar for Saturday, April 24, 2021, and join Piedmont Natural Gas, State Farm Insurance, Fort Bragg Harley-Davidson, the band Rivermist and the entire Hogs & Rags committee as we rally for three great charities and a wonderful Fayetteville/Cumberland County community.
Stay in touch with us at www.hogsandrags.org, and check out our Facebook page at Hogs and Rags of Fayetteville for more information. In the meantime: Stay safe, healthy and get ready to ride next year when you hear “KICKSTANDS UP!”

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