The Wharf Rat Rally Motorcycle Association is a not-for-profit society that relies on sponsorships and the help of hundreds of volunteers to maintain its sustainability. It is comprised of a volunteer board of directors with 12 members who are business leaders in Southwest Nova Scotia. Before 2012, the Rally had been organized and run by a totally volunteer board.
The Wharf Rat Rally was originally conceived as a free event bringing together riders of all types in a family-friendly environment. It begins the Wednesday prior to Labour Day Weekend and continues for five action-packed days. The event was co-founded by Peter Robertson and Alex Joannides in 2005 and saw just a small gathering of motorcycles meet in Digby. From there, the Wharf Rat Rally has continued to grow, attracting bigger names and more bikes and people. It is now comprised of over 50 smaller events with entertainers and builders brought in from near and far. As they enjoy music and races, dancers and stunters, participants are encouraged to register or make a donation to help guarantee future rallies.
The heart of the rally is the central core of the Town of Digby which offers both a central meeting place and access to the Bay of Fundy on the Digby Wharf. Events take advantage of both the streetscape and the water and include music, vendors, raffles, watersport demonstrations, and guided tours.
In 2017, based on an economic impact study done by the Province of Nova Scotia, the town of just over 2,000 had an influx of 21,870 total visitors on 8,020 motorcycles entering town multiple times over the course of the event.
- the Wharf Rat Rally generated a $4.9 million boost to the Nova Scotia economy (that's $4.9 million that would not have been spent if the Rally did not happen)
- tax revenues produced by the event totaled $2.3 million across Canada
- average total spending for overnight visitors was $472 per person
- 50% of riders were on Harley-Davidson motorcycles, followed by Honda, Yamaha and Kawasaki
- on Saturday of the Rally, an estimated 17,933 visitors were in Digby at some point in the day
Recognizing the value of the economic impact to the area of the event, support has been given to the Wharf Rat Rally by the Province of Nova Scotia, the Town of Digby, and the Municipality of Digby. Although our visitors generate revenue for local businesses, the association is very dependent on registrations, donations and sponsorships to pay for bringing contests, builders and general entertainment to the Rally.