Nova Scotia

Yarmouth not revved up by proposal for another biker rally in southwest N.S.

The Town of Yarmouth, N.S., has told a Digby man it's not interested in hosting a biker rally the week before the popular Wharf Rat Rally.

Digby says another motorcycle event would distract from annual Wharf Rat Rally

Peter Robertson, who founded Digby's Wharf Rat Rally, wants to bring a similar event to Yarmouth. (Brett Ruskin/CBC)

The town of Yarmouth, N.S., has told a Digby man it's not interested in hosting a biker rally the week before the popular Wharf Rat Rally.

Peter Robertson founded the original Wharf Rat Rally in 2004 in Digby and was part of the annual event until he moved away from Nova Scotia in 2010. Now that he's back, he said he wants to start from scratch in a new town.

"I'm asking Yarmouth to start a motorcycle rally called the 'Sou'West Iron and Ink'," Robertston said.

"It would happen a week before the Wharf Rat Rally so it would kind of enhance it. The vendors would already be at mine, they would be able to stay those extra two days and then come to the Digby rally."

Robertson presented his idea to Yarmouth town council two weeks ago. His idea was to host the event in late August ⁠— the week before the 2020 Wharf Rat Rally which runs from Sept. 2 to 6.

"Hoping to keep the people in the area for 10 days was our goal," he said.

Peter Robertson recently presented his idea to Yarmouth town council. (Submitted by Peter Robertson)

The Digby Wharf Rat Rally has grown since 2004 to become something of a convention for bikers attracting as many as 20,000 people.

At first, Yarmouth said it might be interested in the idea, provided Robertson had the support of Wharf Rat Rally, the Town of Digby and the Municipality of the District of Digby.

However on Monday, the town sent him a letter with new conditions.

"The only way they'll do it now is if it's an extension of the Wharf Rat Rally, so it would have to be the Wharf Rat Rally putting it on," he said.

At a town council meeting last Thursday, Yarmouth town council approved a motion saying it would only proceed with a motorcycle rally "on the basis of an invitation or request from the Wharf Rat Rally organizers in Digby."

"And that's not what I'm interested in doing," Robertson said.

Digby warden not supportive

Robertson said the early days of the Digby Wharf Rat Rally were a bit of a struggle.

"We went in the hole as a group, not me individually, and then we would work all year trying to bail it out to keep going. Those were the growing years," he said.

Robertson recalls it was his daughter Tarah who came up with the original name. He said he and his daughter were sitting in a Digby pub brainstorming names for the biker rally when his daughter saw a rat run across the wharf. 

Officials with the Municipality of the District of Digby say it makes no sense to offer two back to back rallies so close together.

"You're just not gonna get bikers to stay in this area for two weeks to take in two rallies, I don't believe," said Jimmy MacAlpine, warden for the municipality.

"I don't know what he wants to do that for. It's just gonna take away from the rally that's already established in Digby.... You can have too much of everything."

Robertson said he's in negotiations to set up a biker rally with two other unnamed communities in the province. No one from the Digby Wharf Rat Rally responded to requests for comment.

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