Published DateLACONIA — Among the more than one hundred licensed vendors hawking their wares at Motorcycle Week most are itinerant traders travelling from one event to the next, while only five are associated with local businesses and perhaps another handful based in New Hampshire.
Three — Cormier's Sugarhouse of Alton, Rollin' in the Dough of Sanbornton and Magnetic Therapy Jewelry of Gilford — are doing business at the rally for the first time. Carolyn's Creameree of Loudon is at The Weirs for the fifth year and Sharky's Hot Dogs and Sausages of Tilton for the third time.
Dennis Cormier, who operates a sugarhouse with his wife Judeann, said that city officials told him he was the first to ever offer maple products, a quintessential New Hampshire speciality, at Bike Week. Apart from candy and syrup, he offers maple cotton candy, which has proved a favorite. "The other day it was non-stop cotton candy," he remarked, "The machine didn't stop for over an hour."
"Except for the maple drops, maple tea and pancake mix, we make everything we sell," Cormier said. "I'm not going to tell anyone I make it when I don't." A culinary arts students who entered the food business at the age of 12, Cormier and his wife met when they discovered they were both tapping maple trees, he in Brentwood and she in Candia. Now they gather sap from an 11-acre sugarbush in Alton, where they started their business in 2008.
Cormier vowed that although the weather has slowed sales, I'll come back next years. You can't do anything about Mother Nature." Located at the Weirs Beach Drive-In, behind the stage at the Lobster Pound, Cormier said he may seek quieter space on the boardwalk next year.
Next door, at Rollin' in the Dough, Wayne Tardif and Elizabeth Marad mind the stall for Ed and Rachel Page who own and operate the bakery in Sanbornton. Tardif explained that the Pages only sell their baked goods, numerous varieties of breads and pastries, at farmer's markets between Tilton and Boston. "They are selling somewhere every day of the week and sometimes at more than one location," he said.
Tardif said that he and Page are both avid motorcyclists who have been coming to the rally "forever." This year they decided to rent a space and sell their goods. "The product sells itself," Tardif said. "Everything, from cookies to breads to donuts, is baked fresh daily."
Betty and Nick Snook also brought their beaded necklaces and bracelets, which are said to ease the pain arthritis, tennis elbow, carpal tunnel syndrome and other aches and pains, to Bike Week for for the first time this year. "We've worked craft fairs in Tilton, Wolfeboro and Meredith and go to the Fryeburg Fair in Maine," Nick said. "And we went to the rally in Sturgis, South Dakota with a different product."
"This is not really our market," Betty remarked. "They are not looking for handcrafted items." She added that operating next to the "Wall of Death" and near a beer tent with live music also posed a challenge, explaining that it is not easy to sell her kind of product when conversation is difficult.
Carolyn Dudley, who in 1998 opened Dudley's Ice Cream Parlor on Route 16, just south of the New Hampshire Motor Speedway, operates from two locations, one selling soft-serve at the drive-in and another selling hard ice cream at the Lobster Pound. She learned the art of making homemade ice cream from her mother who ran an ice cream stand in Shapley, Maine.
"Friends enjoyed our ice cream," Dudley said, "and asked why not sell it at the hopkinton and Deerfield fairs?'" She said when that proved successful she began eying Motorcycle Week, initially with some apprehension raised by what she had heard. But, she said "the people at the rally are extremely nice. There is nothing rowdy. It's a real family event. We serve a lot of families."
"For ice cream you want sun," she said, casting an eye to the gray sky, "but, business picks up in the evening."
Sharky's, operated by Devan Puopolo of Gilford, whose parents own TLC Jewelry in Tilton, has catered the pond hockey tournament in Meredith and fishing derby on Lake Winnipesaukee as well as Bike Week for the past three years, This he doubled his space at the far end of the Boardwalk near Rally Headquarters, from one 10 by 10 stall to a 24 by 10 space, on the strength of strong sales a year ago.
Early in the week Puopolo said that "the weather's not doing us any good. It's keeping a lot of people away, but you gotta do what you gotta do." But, he said the first weekend went well and the forecast for the last was promising. He said that the business represents an initial investment of some $10,000 and sales at the rally have returned that and more. Puopolo said that he would like to see more local businesses at the rally. "Let's keep more of the money around here," he said.
(1) Carolyn Dudley of Carolyn's Creameree brings a smile to a little girl's face — and another to her own — with a serving her homemade ice cream at Motorcycle Week. (Laconia Daiukly Sun photo/ Michael Kitch).
(2) Devan Puopolo tends the Italian sausage and mixes the onions and peppers over a hot grill at Sharky's Hot Dogs and Sausages on the Boardwalk, where the food vendor has operated during the last three rallies. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Michael Kitch)
(3) For the cookie monsters at Bike Week, Wayne Tardif and Elizabeth Marad of Rollin' in the Dough offer a variety of fresh baked treats at the Weirs Beach Drive-In Theatre. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Michael Kitch)