Digby's Wharf Rat Rally faces funding cut

Digby's Wharf Rat Rally may not get funding for another year, the mayor has warned.
25,000 bikers will roar into Digby at the end of August. (CBC)

Digby’s hugely popular Wharf Rat Rally may not get funding for another year, the mayor has warned.

Ben Cleveland said the event, which draws 25,000 people to a community of 2,100 people, brings a financial boom to Digby. But he’s not sure the municipality can afford to help it out any more.

"The rally has had some challenges getting going. This year we did support them to the tune of $15,000 plus in-kind services," he said.

Those services include overtime and policing costs. That’s less money than it gave last year, and it will likely give even less next year, he said. Digby's population is declining and it is facing financial struggles, the mayor added.

"It's tough," he said. "To ask a town for $15,000 is a challenge."

Cleveland said a new policy limits the grants Digby can give to organizations. "The rally would be looking at a reduction next year," he said.

The money so far should be seen as "seed money."

"It's time for them to take it to another level," he said.

'Skimpy' support brings huge return

Rally chairman Glenn Dunn said they are expecting a great turnout this year. The event got a four-page spread in Easy Rider, one of the world’s top motorcycle magazines.

"We're moving along big time. Nobody’s sleeping a lot," he said.

He said local government funding was "skimpy," but that the rally offered a great return on investment.

"Look at the number of people and how much money is left in the area," he said. "I think it'll be over $10 million for the whole province this year."

The rally will celebrate its 10th anniversary next year. Dunn is confident it will be the biggest ever, whatever the municipal government decides to do.  

The event runs Aug. 28 to Sept. 1.