Head of the Dragon

The main street of Bradshaw was lined with 100 motorcycles for the Head of the Dragon Motorcycle Ride during the 2017 event. Riding enthusiasts are expected from across the East Coast this year.

WELCH — The Head of the Dragon Motorcycle and Sports Car Ride will get underway the morning of Sept. 21 in McDowell County when registration opens at the Martha Moore Park in Welch, organizers announced Tuesday.

Registration for the Head of the Dragon will be from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. that day with no registration fee.

This is the third annual running of the Head of the Dragon event that highlights one of the most beautiful and challenging road courses in the United States, Executive Director Randal Johnson of Council of the Southern Mountains said. The council was created the road event to bring about economic development for southern West Virginia.

This year’s event is being recognized by the tourism organization, Visit Southern West Virginia, as the feature event for September 2019, Johnson stated.

To showcase the talent of southern West Virginia, Allen “Cathead” Johnston will be singing during the registration period so both locals and tourist can enjoy the unique sounds of one of the most renowned musical artists in this area, Johnson said.

The Arts and Culture Center in Welch will be also be open that day to support the Head of the Dragon event and give visitors the opportunity to view the newly opened facility. Ann Turley, the center’s coordinator, is working with the Head of the Dragon to make the event a success, Johnson said.

Local artist Tom Acosta has been invited to attend the event and auction off one of his paintings with a motorcycle theme. Acosta is known across the State for his artwork and his murals. In addition, regional historian Jay Chatman will be speaking during the event opening about the history of McDowell County, especially Coalwood, Home of the Rocket Boys.

The Head of the Dragon route runs through Coalwood in order to recognize the contribution made by McDowell County citizens to NASA and this country’s space exploration and keep this memory alive among local residents and tourists, Johnson said. The Head of the Dragon ride will visit the Space Shuttle replica in Coalwood Park, donated by Homer Hickam, McDowell County native and author of the book, “Rocket Boys” and consultant to the movie “October Sky.”

This year’s event is also being held in conjunction with the Best Hot Dog in West Virginia Festival.

Flat Iron Drug Store in Welch and the Council of the Southern Mountains will be awarding $500 to the best judged hot dog at the event on the same day as the Head of the Dragon ride, Johnson said.

The hot dog festival will be held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Martha Moore Park in Welch. Church groups, civic organizations, individuals and vendors from all over the state are invited to compete and ultimately receive the distinction of being named the Best Hot Dog in West Virginia. Area residents at the festival buying hot dogs from the vendors will be eligible for door prizes and a chance to win $200 to be awarded to someone in attendance.

Flat Iron Drug Store is also raffling a 50-inch television with tickets on sale only at the drug store on McDowell Street in Welch. The television will be awarded at the end of the Head of the Dragon and Best Hot Dog in West Virginia Festival with proceeds going to a local charity.

Vendors for the hot dog competition must pre-register by calling 304-436-6800 and ask for Tammi Ferrell.

Head of the Dragon organizers relate that this will be the biggest event ever held for the motorcycle and sports car ride. Riders from states across the eastern part of the United States are scheduled to attend. The economic benefit to McDowell County and southern West Virginia will be significant as out of town riders calling for information are inquiring about food and local lodging. Johnson stated.

For more information about these events, call 304-436-6800.

Contact Greg Jordan at gjordan@bdtonline. com

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