TN HOG Rally brings business to Blount Co.

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MARYVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Bikers from all over started showing up for the state Harley Owners Group rally, or HOG rally, earlier this week.

"We got here on Wednesday and we're staying at the Courtyard Marriot," said James Hooper, who came from Sparta, TN.

"The rally is a great time for people who love riding Harley Davidson motorcycles to get together, spend some quality time together," said Scott Arnold, who lives in Cookville.

This is the first time it's been held in Maryville, and Blount County welcomed the more than 3,000 motorcyclists with open arms.

"The general public has been so nice to all of our people, all of the restaurants and certainly the downtown area where we had a street party Thursday night and we loved having everybody come out," said Valerie Ledterman, a regional manager for Harley Davidson Motor Company.

The bikers are eating at local restaurants, staying in area hotels and supporting local businesses - the economic impact is in the millions. An antique shop said the rally has tripled its business.

"There were so many people in here, it brought in lots of people. So we are so thankful for this rally. I mean, it's been great for the community," said Danielle Hopkins, with LaRue's on Broadway.

Business is also booming at Two Doors Down, a bar and restaurant across the street.

"We've had a lot of people coming through, passing through. While they're riding, they'll come have a quick drink, grab a bite to eat and carry on and at night, when everything is done with the rides and stuff, we've had a pretty good influx of people coming in at night a little bit later," said Philip Sharp, a manager there.

People attending the rally said it couldn't be in a nicer spot:

"We've ridden the Dragon, we've ridden the Cherohala Skyway, the Foothills Parkway. I believe there were at least 12 rides - they gave you a map that you could do," said Bob Johnson.

Not suprisingly, bikers and businesses said they hope the HOG rally comes back to East Tennessee again in the future.

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