SANDUSKY, OH (WTOL) –
More than 100,000 motorcycle enthusiasts are currently riding into Northern Ohio for Ohio Bike week in Sandusky.
For the 14th year, thousand of bikers will converge for the Memorial Day Weekend in Sandusky.
When Ohio Bike Week began in 2005, the previous years rally only drew 4,000 to 10,000. This year, organizers are expecting more than 150,000.
It’s not just the vendors or concerts that is the draw for these bikers, but the beautiful northern Ohio landscape.
"Five months out of the year, this area is as good as anywhere on earth. When you get weather like this, you’ve got the water, the neat things to see, everything from the lighthouse to the area attractions like Cedar Point and the Islands, it’s amazing," said Steven Ernst, event organizer for Ohio Bike Week.
For local businesses, Ohio Bike Week acts as an early injection of tourism dollars before the full tourism season kicks off, like local business Mad River Harley-Davidson, which has been a primary vendor of the event for 10 years now.
"It’s huge for us. We heavily rely on Bike Week. It’s a lot going on in a short amount of time, but it is really good for the whole community," said Jolene Krizan, general manager of mad River Harley-Davidson
Though the rumbling of motorcycles is only in town for a handful of days, the impact these visitors have on this community have changed the minds of many about motorcycle culture.
"It used to be that a lot of people thought they were scary sometimes, but when you actually get involved in it, you’d be surprised everyone is welcoming," said Krizan.
On Memorial Day, Mad River Harley-Davidson will be attempting to break the Guinness World Record for largest motorcycle ride. They only need 1,500 people to participate, and registration is still open.
As thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts flock to our area for Ohio Bike Week, they are also injecting thousands of dollars into our local economy.
Because Ohio Bike Week has grown over the years into a powerhouse event, it brings a larger economic impact.
This year’s estimated 150,000 visitors are expected to stay an average of three nights. Therefore local hotels, restaurants and attractions will see there first round of tourist dollars spent.
But the biggest impact is the exposure of the region.
Last year Ohio Bike Week brought in visitors from all counties in Ohio and 26 other states, which grows the potential for a return visit from the bikers.
"People will come to this area for bike week, and and hopefully they’ll find something they want to do a little bit more of. And they’ll plan their own personal trips and they’ll come back several times throughout the season," said Jill Bauer with Lake Erie Shores and Islands.
With the forecast of summer-like weather this weekend, Jill says that the estimated 150,000 visitors to Ohio Bike Week could grow to around 200,000.
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