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READY TO RIDE: Wing Ding 42 is scheduled June 30-July4, 2020, at the Springfield Expo Center.
Photo provided by Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau
READY TO RIDE: Wing Ding 42 is scheduled June 30-July4, 2020, at the Springfield Expo Center.

Wing Ding rally returning to Springfield

CVB officials expect the event to generate $2M in visitor spending

Posted online

The Gold Wing Road Riders Association’s annual motorcycle rally is heading back to the Queen City after more than 20 years.

Called Wing Ding 42, the 42nd annual rally is scheduled June 30-July 4, 2020, Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau officials announced Aug. 28. The event is expected to bring 7,000-10,000 visitors, who are projected to spend roughly $2 million while they’re in town, according to Tracy Kimberlin, CVB’s president and CEO.

The event was last held in Springfield in 1999, but Kimberlin said the CVB never lost contact with the Gold Wing Road Riders Association in the hopes the rally would return.

“We continued to talk with them and the talks got serious a couple of years ago,” he said, noting it’s typically a long process to recruit such traveling events. “For all major conventions, you don’t book them in one phone call.”

Next year’s event will primarily take place at the Springfield Expo Center and University Plaza Hotel & Convention Center. Activities include a four-day trade show, seminars, parades, demo rides and entertainment, according to the Gold Wing association’s website.

“With the great hospitality and venues in Springfield and the great riding opportunities in the surrounding areas, we’re very much looking forward to the long-awaited return,” said Paul Hildebrand, association founder, in a news release.

Although it generally sticks to the middle portion of the country, the Wing Ding moves around every year, said Kevin Thomas of Phoenix, Arizona-based KKT Event Management. He has been involved with the event since 1997, the last 11 of which have been through his management company.

“It’s been a while since we’ve been there, so we’re trying to keep things fresh,” he said of the convention selecting Springfield. “The riding opportunities in Branson are great, and the city of Springfield has just been real good to work with.”

Wing Ding 41, held last summer in Nashville, Tennessee, drew around 7,200 in attendance, Thomas said.

Since the Aug. 28 event announcement, Kimberlin said approximately 1,100 room nights already have been reserved by attendees. He’s not really surprised by the early hotel bookings, noting the same response occurred in 1999. Attendance that year was around 13,000, he said.

That large of an attendance isn’t projected for the 2020 edition, as he noted the membership of the group has aged somewhat and may not travel this far. But Kimberlin said 10,000 is reasonable.

The Phoenix-based Gold Wing association is a social organization for owners and riders of Honda Gold Wing motorcycles. It has more than 72,000 members in over 50 countries, according to its website.

CVB Sales Director Dana Maugans said the $2 million visitor spending projected for next year’s Wing Ding is an estimate that determines economic impact in the community. The CVB spends $5,400 annually for a software service subscription through Washington, D.C.-based Destinations International that helps calculate how much an event attendee spends. She said the number of attendees, room nights and local visitors contribute to the calculation.

Kimberlin said the CVB generally estimates $150 per person, per day for conventions. The total would be less for multiday sporting tournaments, which typically has children in attendance and more people per hotel room.

“It shows the value of what conventions, meetings and sporting events can bring to the community,” Maugans said.

Like Wing Ding, a $2 million economic impact estimate from the CVB is connected to another vehicle-related event in Springfield. The National Street Rod Association’s Mid-America Street Rod Nationals completed its 36th edition in May. Maugans said the NSRA three-day gathering on Memorial Day weekend regularly draws people from all over the country, with more than 3,000 room nights booked annually.

“We’re a business travel community, and business travel slows down over that weekend,” she said. “So for us to have this group over Memorial Day, it’s great.”

Kimberlin said he wouldn’t be surprised if the economic impact estimated for Wing Ding turns out even higher. Some events have a tightly packed schedule that makes it difficult for participants to leave convention space to get out and spend money, he said. That’s a problem he doesn’t foresee for the motorcycle convention.

“With the Gold Wingers, it’s all about the trade show,” he said. “But they have a lot of time and a lot of money to spend out in the community.”

The last time Wing Ding was here, events were spread around town, Kimberlin said, but primarily held at the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds. Motorcycles will utilize some off-site parking next year, but the Expo Center will host the trade show. He said there’s just enough room to accommodate it, as the venue has 112,000 square feet in floor space available, according to its website.

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