Biketoberfest is one last hurrah for bikers before the summer weather is over and motorcyclists have to store their bikes for the winter.
At least, that’s how Bruce Bissell describes his Friday and Saturday motorcycle event that has been running for the past 15 years.
He said it used to happen in October, but because of poor weather — sometimes snow, sometimes rain, sometimes just plain old cold temperatures — the event got moved to September. Because it’s a motorcycle event, which includes the Ride of Flags on Friday evening, good weather is ideal.
During the Ride of Flags, people ride their bikes, starting at 6:15 p.m. from Clare’s Cycle and Sports Ltd. on Highway 20 in Pelham to the Welland County Motorcycle Club on Netherby Road in Welland, where the main event takes place. During the ride, people have flags or banners from their respective motorcycle clubs, the Canadian Flag or whatever flag they see fit. The ride serves as a kickoff to the main event all-day Saturday.
He said Bikertoberfest originally began as a fundraiser for the Fenwick Lions Club, but has since grown to a large event that sees as many as 10,000 people come for live entertainment, motorcycle judging, classic bikes, food and 40 vendors.
“It’s grown over the years,” he said, adding it’s the largest motorcycle event in Niagara. “It’s unbelievable.”
He said there is something for everyone at the event, and encourages people to come check it out. Bands that will be playing include the Big Dave Trio of Friday night and Triple X, the ZZ Top tribute band.
The clubhouse at Welland County Motorcycle Club will also be turned into a museum of sorts for the event and he said having Biketoberfest at that location is just a great way to show off the site, too.
Last year, Bissell said Biketoberfest raised $ 30,000 for Pathstone Mental Health, and funds raised this year will once again be going towards that initiative.
The event itself is free, with money raised by raffling off a motorcycle. A 2017 Harley Davidson Street Glide Special will be raffled, with tickets being sold for $ 20 a piece until 6 p.m. Saturday evening. He said tickets can be purchased in advance at Clare’s Cycle and Sports.
He said on Saturday the Professional Hockey Players Association will also be selling tickets for their own raffle separate from Biketoberfest. Tickets for a custom-made Harley Davidson worth over $ 70,000, with proceeds going towards Hockey Fights Cancer, will be available from the PHPA on site. That raffle will be drawn at a later date.