‘I think Red River will actually be better for it’: Community expects business to continue as usual

Published: May. 30, 2023 at 8:28 PM CDT
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - A Memorial Day weekend tradition in Red River, New Mexico, a town relying on tourism from the Panhandle, turned deadly.

Over the weekend, New Mexico State Police say a ‘confrontation of some sort’ occurred between motorcycle gangs, leaving three dead and five injured.

Business owners were told to shut down after the shooing, as the investigation continued, having an impact on businesses that many rely on this weekend.

“Memorial Day is really like our Black Friday because, you know we come out of the depreciated revenue stream and really depend on Memorial Day to generate a ton of revenue to make up for the losses and we come out of our off season on a deficit,” said Matt Dietz.

One business, Southern Exposure Photography, has been taking photos of the motorcycle rally for over 25 years and has never seen anything like this.

“Sunday’s our biggest sales day, we did a fraction of what we should have done to for sales wise,” said Kyle Brown, vice president, Southern Exposure Photography,

As for the future, many in the town believe and hope Red River will continue business as usual.

Dietz says 99 percent of Red River’s revenue is gained from tourism and says the motorcycle rally is not like anything else the town does

“Just the nature of this town is a safe place and this incident is not going to change that, in fact, it will probably only make it safer and so I think it’s a very tragic thing, a very unfortunate thing, but I think Red River will actually be better for it,” said Dietz.

He says this allows the town to take the opportunity to come together and reassess its core values.

“Red River is so family oriented and that is who we strive to cater to, so I just hope that this is you know, we can just move forward with normal activities and just excited to see all of our families come to Red River this summer,” said Katie McDowell, business owner in Red River.

Many in the town want to see change around the motorcycle rally and the mayor says things will be done.

“We don’t welcome outlaw biker gangs in any way, shape, or form and we’re going to do everything we can to make sure that nothing like this ever happens,” said Linda Calhoun, mayor of Red River.

The town wants to reassure tourists this message, ‘you are safe in Red River’.

“Violence happens everyday, violence happens everyday in Amarillo, violence happens everyday across this country and our guys, our team, the people that were here, the way that they responded was so phenomenal, that is the kind of community service that you’re going to get from our agencies, our police force here,” said Dietz.

The mayor says the first officers were on scene within 30 seconds and the scene was contained in around 10 minutes,

“There were no civilians that were injured, there were no first responders, law enforcement that were injured, so it could have really been a catastrophic event and we were very thankful that it was contained to the outlaw gang members,” said Calhoun.

The mayor says there will be a community meeting tomorrow to discuss the future of the Annual Red River Memorial Day Motorcycle Rally.