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Bike Week is back in the Granite State

Updated: Jun. 11, 2021 at 5:27 PM EDT
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LACONIA, N.H. (WCAX) - One of the region’s biggest events kicks off Saturday after a scaled-down version last year. The 98th annual Laconia Motorcycle Week is bringing things back to the way they used to be.

There is a bit of a buzz at “Bike Week” in Laconia this year, an event that traditionally jumps starts the summer tourism season. “I’m here every year. Been coming up here for over forty years,” said Chuck Chace of Massachusetts.

Last year’s event was postponed until August because of the pandemic. Some events were canceled and attendance numbers dropped significantly. But this year, as New Hampshire continues to put the pandemic in the rearview mirror, a big crowd is expected. “We just know that most of the lodging in the area and in the state is pretty full right now,” said event organizer Charlie St. Clair.

Upwards of 300,000 people could show up in Laconia. However, because the border is still closed, riders from Canada will be missing out for the second year in a row. The event’s economic impact is usually over $100 million in New Hampshire alone, but surrounding states including Vermont also see a boost. “Everybody that comes here, unless they are dropping out of a plane, has to go through those states to get here.” St. Clair said.

The summer tourism season is very important for the Lake’s Region of New Hampshire. Laconia City Manager Scott Myers says 2020 wasn’t all bad news. “Everyone was doing the staycations and finding things close to home for them and we were inundated, not only here at Weirs Beach but the other city beaches,” he said.

Business owners also adapted. “We were able to put outside seating and work through the process and survive,” said Dave Hendrick, who owns a couple of restaurants in the area. He’s happy to see things returning to normal. “It’s great for the community. It’s great for all the people who want to get out and enjoy.”

And that includes the views just off the rally’s main strip. “All the back roads, so scenic. Up in the White Mountains -- I love this area,” Chace said.

Organizers of the event say their number one concern is safety. They are encouraging drivers to be aware of their surroundings and bikers to ride as if their lives depend on it.

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