VC businesses anticipating bikers’ bucks |

VC businesses anticipating bikers’ bucks

Dave Frank
Appeal Staff Writer

Thousands of friendly, well-behaved professionals are coming to Virginia City this week, and an entire street has been reserved for their motorcycles.

“You’re not going to have a $15,000 to $20,000 motorcycle and not have a good job,” said Jett Aguilar, president of the Virginia City Chamber of Commerce and owner of the city’s Union Brewery. The Reno-based Street Vibrations motorcycle festival running Wednesday through Sunday, she added, is the busiest time in the year for city businesses.

“They’re lawyers, they’re surgeons, they’re doctors,” she said of the bikers. “They’re all different professions … And they have disposable income. If they see something and they want it, they’re not shy about spending money for it.”

This year, the city is an official event location for what organizers say is the sixth-largest motorcycle festival in the country.

But Virginia City has been a popular place with bikers for years, Aguilar said, and the 1,500-person city will be ready with music, discounts on leather clothing and motorcycles-only parking on the main drag, C Street.

Jo-Ellen Fonzo, a bartender at Mark Twain Casino, said she’s watched the festival grow over the last 14 years and surpass the city’s annual camel races, held this month, to become the biggest event in the city.

Businesses love having the bikers, too, she said.

“They spend a lot of money, and they have fun. They don’t drink too much. They don’t get rowdy.”

Organizers of the festival said they expect more than 30,000 bikers to come to Reno and thousands of those to go to Virginia City.

Police don’t like the bikers to stay in one place too long, said festival representative Carol Infranca, so if bikers take a drive to Virginia City, it will help “keep the boys happy.”

People in Virginia City have their own name for the event, Aguilar said: “Thunder on the Comstock.”

Marlene McCall, a manager at Leather Works in Virginia City, said bikers like the long winding roads up to the 6,200-foot-elevation city.

If they come into her store, she added, they usually buy items they can carry on their bike. And if not, Aguilar said, many stores offer shipping.

John Bopko, owner of the Old Red Garter clothing store, said the bikers have been great customers over the years.

“The women all love leather, and the men all have platinum cards,” he said.

It’s a good event and good for the city, he said, and he wished could happen more often.

“There’s no Hells Angels,” he said. “Let’s put it that way.”

If you go

What: Street Vibrations

When: Wednesday through Sunday in Reno, Carson City and Virginia City

Details: For a schedule events, go to and scroll to the bottom of the page

• Contact reporter Dave Frank at or 881-1212.