Lone Star Rally vendors left with damage after strong storm

The Lone Star Rally got off to a rocky start after bad weather slammed Galveston’s Strand during set-up Wednesday.

The first day of the nations largest four-day bike rally came complete with toppled over tents, damaged merchandise, and vendors working hard to get back in business.

Bikers had a scary ride into town during the storm.

“The wind was really rough,” said Gene Byrd, who drove in from Mississippi. “It was the most intense rain I think I’ve driven in so far.”

Vendors were still rebuilding their booths Thursday as the estimated 450,000 bikers arrived in Galveston.

“Lots of damage here, but they recover,” said Walter Hanchett, who biked to the rally from Houston. “They’ve done it before.”

The owners of HC Leather spent Thursday packing up their booth and heading home after thousands of dollars worth of leather jackets were ruined in the storm.

“The tents, I guess, lifted up, and it came through our tent and the tent beside us, knocked the top off, and all the leather stuff got completely soaked all the way through,” said HC Leather owner Travis Henry.

“This guy: He found his tent this morning over there underneath that truck,” said vendor Melody Nealy, adding that as the storm worsened, she got out of bed to come save her tent. “I had a poker keeping the water out of the roof so it would not collapse. That’s the only way I saved my tent.”

“We will make it through, and we will he just fine,” said vendor Jason Crago, whose tent lay in a crumpled heap Thursday morning.

“What is fantastic is the resiliency of the biker spirit,” said Sharon Damante, a Lone Star Rally spokesperson. “They just kind of picked themselves up by their boot straps...and they’re all open, and everyone’s ready for a party.”

The Lone Star Rally four-day weekend creates an estimated $115 million positive economic impact each year, said Damante.