MCDOWELL COUNTY, WV – The Head of the Dragon roared with a resounding cry of, “Restore McDowell County” on Saturday September 21, 2019.
As registration ended at the Martha Moore Park in Welch, 125 screaming motorcycles breathed fire into the County, as there were riders from all parts of West Virginia and the states of Indiana, Maryland, Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Oregon, leaving the benefits of tourism and economic diversity.
Officials from the sponsor and creator of the Head of the Dragon, Council of the Southern Mountains, related that this was the largest single day event for the three-year-old ride.
Randal Johnson, Council Executive Director, related that thousands of dollars were pumped into the local economy as a result of the event. Motorcyclists also access the mountainous course throughout the year with one group just finishing the course from French speaking Montreal, Canada. Many lodging sites in the County also reported being booked solid for the weekend of the event.
During the registration period for the Ride, prizes were awarded to Riders for the Best Bike and Trike, as judged by the Riders themselves. In addition, gift cards and prizes were presented to participants from local businesses: Jimmy’s Hardware, MCNB, Pioneer Community Bank, and Goodson’s.
The Cole Harley-Davidson outlet in Bluefield, WV set up a booth at the event to support motorcyclists in southern West Virginia and Community Crossings of Welch presented a gourmet coffee and Italian Crème Soda display. Both marketing displays were popular with the event participants and the community.
The newly opened Arts and Culture Center in Welch was open during the Head of the Dragon event with vendors selling art works. Ann Turley, Director of the Center, was instrumental in making the event a success and bringing about awareness of the arts in McDowell County.
The City of Bradshaw opened their arms and hearts to the Dragon Riders by having food vendors and an Elvis Presley impersonator performing to the delight of the event participants. The Bradshaw Mayor, Brian Harrison, welcomed the motorcyclists and opened the town’s comfort centers and dining areas for the pleasure of the riders. Sheila Muncy of Bradshaw was instrumental in this show of support and hospitality.
Tom Acosta, renowned McDowell County native and artist, donated a painting from his American Realism collection entitled, “Dragon 2019.” Mr. Acosta painted the picture just for the Head of the Dragon event with proceeds from an auction going to the agency. The artwork presented a motorcyclist riding through Coalwood, WV with the childhood home of Homer Hickam, author of the book “Rocket Boys,” in the background. The painting sold for $350 and will remain in McDowell County to commemorate the founding of the Head of the Dragon event by the Council of the Southern Mountains.
Flat Iron Drug Store of Welch co-sponsored with the Council the addition of the Best Hot Dog in West Virginia Festival contest that attracted scores of people to the event. The contest had a prize of $500 for the best judged Hot Dog and this year’s prize went to Becky Lewis of Bluefield, WV.
Judges for the Best Hot Dog in WV contest were Ann Turley, Director of the Arts and Culture Center in Welch, Jim Spencer, past President of Pioneer Community Bank and John Lotcha, pharmacist at Flat Iron Drug Store. Flat Iron Drug Store also raffled off a 50-inch television and the proceeds weredonated to S.A.F.E of McDowell County. The television was won by McKinley Rose of Pageton, WV.
Next year’s event is already in the planning stage for the most spectacular motorcycle and sports car ride in the country. The course of the Head of the Dragon transverses the local twisting highways with scenic views giving riders on the 91-mile ride, with over 500 curves, the experience of a lifetime. For more information, contact the Council of the Southern Mountains at 304-436-6800.