ROT Rally set to take place in Bastrop County despite permit denial with 2,500 attendee limit

BASTROP COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — Thousands are expected to roll through Central Texas starting next Thursday for the annual Republic of Texas or “ROT” Motorcycle Rally.

This year, the event will take place in Bastrop County at Mere’s Reserve on the Colorado from June 9 to June 12. However, during an April hearing, Bastrop County Judge Paul Pape made the decision to deny the event permit for 3,000 attendees.

Yet, under Bastrop County law, the event can move forward as long as organizers keep the number of attendees under 2,500. ROT Rally organizers said during the meeting they plan to keep count on site and limit ticket sales to adhere to those rules.

In years past, the event has drawn tens of thousands of people.

Two reasons the county judge decided to deny the permit are because the venue’s space is limited, and there are safety concerns about roads. The event venue, Mere’s Reserve is located on Farm-to-Market Road 969 right off State Highway 71. County leaders said they are concerned because this is a busy two-lane road with no shoulders that serve many Bastrop County neighbors and is not designed to handle thousands of people.

“Obviously, the people that ride motorcycles have a right to ride their motorcycles, and we want them to ride their motorcycles safely and the same thing with the public in Bastrop. We want the people in Bastrop County to be protected,” explained Bastrop County Sheriff Maurice Cook. “The infrastructure is not very well in that location that they’re going to have it on FM 969 with no shoulders, there are very few entry points, just terrible infrastructure in there.”

During the meeting, Judge Pape also questioned why organizers did not have an action plan ready to present — a plan county leaders said they hoped would have addressed questions about things like security, evacuations and even sheltering in place in case of weather or emergency situation.

Sheriff Cook said for the last several weeks he’s worked to beef up security and prepare for the influx of visitors. Deputies plan to keep an eye on how many people attend.

“We’re trying to make contingency plans, whether we use it through photographic equipment or whether we use personal headcount,” he said. “But, it is our goal to maintain some kind of headcount, so that if nothing else, we archive the information, we have it available in case it is a reoccurring event.”

Cook said it is in the ROT Rally event organizers’ “best interest” to follow the rules.

“As good as they can so that next year, whenever the judge evaluates their request, if it’s over 2,500, of course, then he will have a baseline to just say, ‘Well, y’all did use what you’re supposed to it worked out orderly, is something that Bastrop County can support and at that point, they could more likely get a permit over 2,500.”

The sheriff said that based on the information he heard and was provided with during the April hearing he decided to deny the event’s liquor license, but ultimately it will be up to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission. The agency has not yet issued a liquor license. Officials said they are working with ROT Rally organizers to get the information they need to make that decision.

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