FULTON, Ill. — It’s time to throw on the leathers and rev up the engines because Fulton’s 25th annual Blessing of the Bikes is set for June 1.
Each year hundreds of motorcycles convene along Fourth Street in downtown Fulton to receive a blessing to protect them from danger as they travel the road, a blessing that has come from the same man, Father Arley Downie, for all 25 of those years.
“My dad’s been doing it for 25 years,” Downey’s daughter and Blessing of the Bikes co-founder Julie Meiners said. “He comes up every year from New Mexico so we really want to do it up for him and for the event.”
Originally starting in Meiners’ driveway with Downie and her late husband, D.C. “Bear” Richardson, the Blessing of the Bikes celebration has gone from about five motorcycles receiving the blessing to now more than 300 that are expected this year.
Because of that growth and ability to sustain 25 years, Meiners and other organizers are pulling out all the stops to make this the biggest and best year yet.
“They do blessings at a lot of places this time of year but, I think locally, this is the oldest one,” she said. “This year we’re trying things we’ve never done before just to make it that much better and if it goes good I’m hoping we’ll be able to continue. So far the response has been really great.”
One of the new things happening this year is a swap meet that will be held at the Robert Fulton Community Center. Dozens of vendors will be on location selling anything from food and arts and crafts to leather and motorcycle accessories.
But the event isn’t just for motorcycle riders. Anyone and everyone is invited to take part in the annual blessing.