BikeFest welcomes thousands of riders to Erie for next week

Harley-Davidson of Erie co-owner Kelly Lapping estimated about 50,000 people attended the nine-day event in 2016.

Ready to go whole hog, Harley-Davidson style?

Nine days of wheelies, burnouts, charity rides, concerts, tattoo contests, bikini bike washes and other activities await bikers at the fifth annual Harley-Davidson BikeFest, which opens Saturday and revs its way through July 16.

Co-owners Kelly Lapping and Susan Lapping host the bike week at their 60,000-square-foot Harley-Davidson of Erie dealership at 3712 W. 12th St. in Millcreek Township. 

“We created this BikeFest in 2013 because we wanted to build a bike week — a full week of activities for motorcyclists,” Kelly Lapping said. “We think it’s a great way to bring people into the city, have them stay here for a week and it helps the local economy by having people come from out of town and stay here for a whole week.”

Most of the BikeFest visitors are from a 100-mile radius of Erie, Lapping said.

But, he said, “We’ve had riders here from Seattle, Washington, Texas, Arizona, Florida, so they do come from all parts of the country.”

Lapping estimated about 50,000 people attended the event in 2016.

“The response from the community has been overwhelmingly positive the last four years, and we anticipate the community will once again be pleased with the number of rides we have coming out of our dealership and the live entertainment,” Lapping said. 

The nine-day event features charity motorcycle rides and appearances by local and regional bands, and two national bands.

Saturday’s activities are highlighted by the Alliance of Bikers Aimed Toward Education of Erie County’s seventh annual Bullseye Run. The ride is scheduled to depart the Harley-Davidson store shortly after noon. Later, a BikeFest welcome party will be held from 5 to 9 p.m., with live music by Thirst ‘N Howl, at the Harley dealership’s Miller Lite stage.

Highlights for the rest of the week:

Sunday’s Muscular Dystrophy Association Miles For Smiles’ charity ride, which is sponsored by the Erie Harley Owners Group. Bikers will take a 100-mile ride through Erie County.  
Tuesday’s Law Enforcement Memorial Run, which departs from St. Jude’s Church, 2801 W. Sixth St., shortly after 5 p.m., and the United By Independents Ride at 7 p.m. from the Harley dealership to Liberty Park for two 8 Great Tuesdays BikeFest concerts.
Actor Sean Scully, from the Discovery Channel miniseries show “Harley and the Davidsons” will have a meet-and-greet Friday from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Harley dealership. Scully is a Millcreek Township native who lives in Los Angeles. “He was very excited about wanting to come back to his hometown and participate in Bike Week,” Lapping said. Scully will be the co-grand marshal with Millcreek Township Supervisor John Groh, an avid motorcyclist, for the second annual Red, White & Chrome First Responders Appreciation Parade ride around Presque Isle State Park on Friday.  
BikeFest’s headline concert at 8 p.m. July 15. The featured band is Land of Ozz, a national Ozzy Osbourne tribute band. It will play at the Harley dealership’s Miller Lite stage. 

Also on the entertainment agenda is a July 15 tattoo contest, and bikini bike wash appearances Friday and July 15 by fitness model Amy Bella.

A 2017 Harley-Davidson Dyna Wide Glide motorcycle, valued at $ 18,000, will be raffled July 15.

Some of the proceeds from BikeFest will benefit five local charities: The American Red Cross Northwestern Pennsylvania Chapter, Muscular Dystrophy Association, Sarah A. Reed Children’s Center, Injured Motorcycle Riders Foundation and Cody’s Wheels of Hope.  

“What we’ve built here at our dealership in the last four years is basically a one-stop destination where motorcyclists can come and hang out with other bikers,” Lapping said. “They can go out on daily rides, they have live entertainment and great food. We know it’s going to be a great time.” 

Ron Leonardi can be reached at 870-1680 or by email. Follow him on twitter at twitter.com/ETNleonardi.

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Craig Ballantyne

I love anything to do with Harley Davidson and have two beautiful children and a beautiful partner. In my spare time i like building websites and love anything to do with the internet.

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