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story.lead_photo.caption NWA Democrat-Gazette/MICHAEL WOODS • @NWAMICHAELW The 17th annual Bikes Blues and BBQ motorcycle rally Friday September 23, 2106 in Fayetteville. - Photo by Michael Woods

FAYETTEVILLE -- Bikes, Blues & BBQ raised more money for charity this year than any time in its 17-year history.

The four-day event in September raised more than $230,000 for area nonprofit groups and school programs. It raised about $173,000 in 2015.

Executive Director Tommy Sisemore, who took over the job this year, estimated 325,000 to 350,000 people attended the 2016 rally. He attributed the record amount of money raised to a few factors.

"We had a great marketing campaign," Sisemore said. "We really feel like we had plenty of people show up, and then we had an increase in sponsorships and vendors."

The rally has made a $200,000 commitment over 10 years to Arkansas Children's Northwest hospital. The 230,000-square-foot medical center will open near Arvest Ballpark in Springdale in January 2018. The hospital so far has raised about $54 million toward a $70 million fundraising goal.

Fred Scarbrough, president of the Arkansas Children's Hospital Foundation, said the hospital has tried to develop as many partnerships as possible in its goal to provide care for all the children in Northwest Arkansas.

"The support of Bikes, Blues & BBQ over the next decade will allow for volunteer engagement, community exposure and increased financial support," he said.

The rally will take $20,000 from its proceeds each year to give the hospital. Sisemore said the commitment aligns with the event's purpose.

"The rally was founded on helping women and children and the underserved of our region," he said. "The more that we're in the community, and the more we do for the community, the more we're hitting our mission statement."

About 40 other entities benefited from this year's event. Some groups receive money directly and others raise money at the four-day rally. Organizations fill out grant applications and the Bikes, Blues & BBQ board tries to meet as many of the requests as it can, Sisemore said.

The Children's Safety Center received just more than $2,500 in support. The organization received a portion of sales and its volunteers collected tips at the Beer Garden. The center helps conduct child-abuse investigations in Washington County. Officials estimate they'll see more than 600 children by the end of the year.

"That money goes directly to help with our advocacy services and our forensic interviewing that we do at the center," said Emily Rappe Fisher, the center's development director. "We're able to kind of allocate that where we need it most."

The Washington County Fair Board received more than $75,000 this year. Rally and fair officials have a partnership to provide camp space to about 2,000 people during the motorcycle event, among other endeavors.

Rally beneficiaries

The following organizations were the beneficiaries of the 2016 Bikes, Blues & BBQ rally:

7 Hills Homeless Center — $1,000

Arkansas Children’s Northwest — $20,000*

Area Agency on Aging — $5,585

Arkansas Support Network — $2,316

Big Brothers Big Sisters — $1,130

Boy Scout Troop 122 — $1,200

Boys & Girls Club — $10,659.35

Camp Alliance — $8,808

Childcare Aware — $2,256

Children’s Advocacy Center of Benton County — $750

Children’s Safety Center — $2,578

Community Creative Center — $2,000

Elkins High School Band — $9,600

Fayetteville Lions Foundation — $4,044

Fayetteville Firefighters — $8,800

Fayetteville High School Band Boosters — $5,000

Fayetteville Public Education Foundation — $2,500

Fayetteville Youth Wrestling — $750

Habitat for Humanity — $8,355.96

Havenwood — $6,219.40

Jackson L. Graves — $2,572

JDRF — $3,251.10

Life Source — $750

Life Styles — $1,000

Lincoln High School Athletic Club — $1,500

NWA Center for Sexual Assault — $2,285

NWA Women’s Shelter — $500

Open Avenues — $2,439

Ozark Literacy Council — $1,000

Pagnozzi Charities — $2,500

Peace at Home Family Shelter — $2,000

Planned Parenthood — $1,000

Ralph Baker Scholarship Fund — $2,000

Restoration Village — $2,500

Sequoyah Kiwanis — $6,000

Single Parent Scholarship Fund — $2,599

Springdale Kiwanis — $800

Washington County 4H — $2,300

Washington County Premium Sale — $3,000

Washington County Fair Board — $75,029

Welcome Health of NWA — $2,500

Youth Bridge — $1,500

In-kind donations — $7,900

Total — $230,475.76

*The festival will give Arkansas Children’s Northwest an annual $20,000 donation for 10 years, totaling $200,000.

Source: Staff report

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Fair Board President Kendall Pendergraft said support from Bikes, Blues & BBQ is crucial to the fair's operations.

"Through the campground rentals, through the office rentals, through building rentals and everything else we do with Bikes & Blues, that is our biggest fundraiser for the year," he said. "By the time we get the bills paid and everything, it actually makes us more money than the county fair."

Recipients can get a combination of grants, a portion of sales and direct payment for things like working concession or providing services. Sisemore estimated the event gave away a little more than $140,000 in direct funds and shares from sales.

Committing to an annual gift of $20,000 for Arkansas Children's Northwest over the next 10 years means the rally plans to stay, Sisemore said.

"We're the third largest rally in the nation. We're the world's biggest charity rally," he said. "I wouldn't have taken the job if I didn't think the rally was sustainable for many, many years to come."

Metro on 12/19/2016

Print Headline: Bikes, Blues & BBQ doles out most money to charities in 17-year history

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