American history

Hollister Independence Rally celebrates 70 years

Hollister Independence Rally rider with passenger RIDER HEAVEN Bikers converge on the streets of Hollister for its 70th Hollister Independence Rally June 30-July 2, 2017. Photo: Joshua Miller

Motorcycle riders and enthusiasts by the thousands throng to Hollister each Fourth of July weekend to experience the famous Hollister Independence Rally. Originated in 1947, this event is believed to be the catalyst for the rise of the “American Biker” image and the inspiration for the 1953 cult classic, “The Wild One,” starring Marlon Brando and Lee Marvin.

Now in its 70th year, the hub of the Hollister Independence Rally is San Benito Street in Hollister and will feature amazing motorcycles, headline entertainment, continuous live music, charity events, festival foods, and vendors of motorcycle accoutrements, equipment, and gear.

“We’re really honored to be involved with this historic rally,” said Randy Burke, project manager and Roadshows Inc. owner, who is helping to bring this event to life.

“We think the entertainment line-up we have scheduled will keep everybody happy,” he says.

Burke described several new additions to the rally, including celebrity guest host, Erik Estrada, well known as “Frank ‘Ponch’ Poncherello” from the hit television series CHiPs. Estrada will host Friday’s events; announcing entertainment, hosting VIP parties and by, “Hugging women and kissing babies, or maybe the other way around,” joked Burke.

Burke continued, describing Estrada’s dedication to supporting “the men and women in blue.”

Also joining the rally this year is the Vatos Y Viclas Bike Show, a three-day “block party” showcasing 60-100 traditional viclas, old school choppers and other elegant low riders from around the country.

Other rally highlights include daily “Globe of Death” stunt shows by Hollywood stuntman Monte Perlin, who, among dozens of roles, doubled for Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator 3.

The Mike Corbin Bike Show will present 60 custom bikes and choppers on Saturday, July 1. The show is sanctioned by The International Master Bike Builders Association and will be judged by members of the organization.

During the “Slow Bike Races,” another very popular event, two bikes “race”, staying in their own three foot wide lanes. Burke describes the race as a, “balancing act where the slowest bike wins.”

A full line-up of live musical entertainment is planned across two stages including, Skynnyn Lynnyrd, a “reloaded Lynyrd Skynyrd” tribute, The Charlie Brechtel Band, legendary music that “pays homage to the biker lifestyle”, and Beer Drinkers and Hellraisers, a dedicated ZZ Top tribute touted as, “a must see and they will blow your mind!”

The rally is free and open to the public, including free parking on the main street; all areas are family friendly with the exception of the 21 and over only beer garden. VIP packages are available for purchase and include official merchandise, VIP parking pass, and among other perks, VIP access to the concert area and parties with hosted refreshments.

The Hollister Independence Rally takes place June 30-July 2. For more information and a full entertainment line-up, visit

Tia Sundberg
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About Tia Sundberg
Tia Sundberg is a crafting diva, knitter, Halloween fanatic and freelance writer for South Valley magazine.