GULFPORT -- Gulfport Dragway was a "little Sturgis" on Saturday as motorcycle clubs and enthusiasts from across the country filled the 100-acre dragstrip and motor park for the 34th Mississippi Gulf Coast Memorial Day Blowout. It isn't the major mass gathering that draws tens of thousands to Sturgis, S.D., but the Coast's Blowout has some pretty respectable stats.
"This is the biggest motorcycle club event in the state," said founder and Asgard member Smokey Steputat. "We get people from several states and Canada, and Europe."
It is sponsored each year by the Asgard Motorcycle Club of the Gulf Coast.
The rally is scattered along the motor park, with a midway of vendors selling clothing and bike-oriented items, as well as boiled peanuts, funnel cakes and other delicacies.
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Smokey said the Blowout was once held on Independence Day weekend.
"We started it on July 4, but it rains a lot in July and we decided to move it to Memorial Day and it's also not too hot yet," he said.
The four-day rally started Friday and it will end Monday.
"We usually draw between 5,000 and 10,000 people and we are already close to that this year," he said.
Hard-rock band Trapt was Saturday's headline entertainment. Other activities include races on the drag strip, tattoo contests, bikini contests and a "slow race."
"The slow race is when two bikes go down a grass track and the winner is the one that drives the slowest," Smokey said.
Although everyone was there to have a good time, at least one motorcycle club was carrying a message.
"We're here to spread the message of Jesus Christ," said Carlos Hidalgo of the Hellfighters Motorcycle Ministries of Laurel.
Smokey said there was several Christian clubs participating in the weekend's festivities.
"We have quite a few Christian clubs that come to the Blowout," he said.