Final motorcycle rally postponed to 2021

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The roar of motorcycles will not echo across the Ida Valley and into the Maniototo township of Oturehua as planned, now the Brass Monkey Rally’s swansong is on hold until next year.
Ken Gillespie, who owns the rally site near the Ida Dam, said he had the traditional bonfire ‘‘three-quarters built’’ before the Otago Motorcycle Club decided to postpone the 40th and final rally until 2021.
‘‘We made the call after a meeting. We had to.’’
The reason — Covid-19.

The local community was remaining stoic in the face of losing a money spinner due to the global pandemic, he said.
‘‘This was a major fundraiser for the Otago Motorcycle Club and the Oturehua Winter Sports Club.’’
The event had, in its 40-year history, supported the Ida Valley community ‘‘tremendously’’ and that support had extended to help people in medical need.
However, the community had taken the news well, he said.
‘‘Everyone realised we couldn’t have it.’’

While the novel coronavirus had not left the township untouched, the local store, Gilchrist’s Store, which has operated continually since 1902, was still a symbol of continuity, albeit in a ‘‘reduced capacity’’, he said.
The tourism sector had been hard hit as the Otago Central Rail Trail was also empty of cyclists.

Despite its seeming remoteness, Mr Gillespie had been virtually meeting tourism operators and local leaders via the Zoom application.
Late April and May were usually the most popular with tourists who came to experience the autumn colours and congregated at the Oturehua Railway Hotel.
The hotel had also had to close during lockdown
‘‘These guys are dealing with cancellations. They are going to do it pretty hard,’’ Mr Gillespie said.