For nine days each June, the sound of Harley’s is heard everywhere across the Granite State. The annual Laconia Bike Week schedule ends on Father’s Day, just before the traditional summer vacation season begins.
- It’s the oldest rally in the country. It originated in 1916 when hundreds of motorcyclists convened on Weirs Beach in the city of Laconia. It was officially organized in 1923 as an annual event.
- A 1965 riot between motorcycle gangs and police cast a pall over the rally. Attendance plummeted.
- Civic boosters revived the event’s popularity in the 1990s to enhance tourism revenue.
- New Hampshire does not require motorcyclists to wear helmets. The freedom to feel the wind in your hair – or these days, for many, bald head, is a huge attraction as they tool along scenic, winding highways in the state’s mountainous Lakes Region.
- Deaths often accompany the rally. There were at least two fatal crashes in 2018.
- Weirs Beach on the shore of Lake Winnipesaukee is Ground Zero. It’s filled with vendors and jammed with parked bikes during the rally.
- It has the third- or fourth-highest attendance (400,000). Sturgis, North Dakota, is first (500,000 to 700,000 in August); Daytona, Florida, is second (450,000 to 550,000 in March); and the Bikes, Blues, and BBQ in Fayetteville, Arkansas, comes in about the same (400,000 in September).
- The event brings an estimated $100 million into the state.
- The Mount Washington Ride to the Sky is a bikes-only event to the top of the tallest summit in the Northeast. Snow is sometimes part of the attraction.
- The crowd is graying – but still mostly male and white.