Published DateLACONIA — "It was fine," said Charlie St. Clair, executive director of the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association, of the 90th running of the country's oldest motorcycle rally. "The weather hurt us with the attendance we expected, but everyone who came had a really good time."
St. Clair noted that rain fell throughout four of the nine days of the rally while there were three days of sunshine and two overcast days when the skies opened in the afternoon and evening. He suspected that foul or threatening weather lingering over much of the eastern half of the country, particularly the northeast, probably dissuaded some motorcyclists from traveling.
"I spoke with a lot of people who came from far away who said that despite the weather they enjoyed riding around the state," St. Clair said. The hosts of "The Rally in the Valley" in Conway, he said, also reported that the weather reduced attendance, but that those who braved it relished the experience.
"The event went off very well without any serious incidents," St. Clair said, echoing law enforcement and emergency service officials. The 51 arrests made by the Laconia Police appears to be the fewest in memory and there were only a handful of severe traffic accidents. With the new roundabout at The Weirs and without closing the Weirs Channel Bridge, he said that traffic flowed
St. Clair conceded that "the numbers were not what we hoped for." He said that he heard estimates of "right around 300,000," which he agreed "sounds about right." He noted that a year ago the total crowd was "about 330,000," and in light of the weather thought "it's fair to say we were down about 30,000."
That number, St. Clair remarked, does not included four motorcyclists from Ohio who rode into town on Tuesday thinking the rally started this week. "It happens every year," he said, "but even if they miss it, they're happy to be here."
City Manager Scott Myers said that the expenses incurred by the city during the rally are still being tabulated, but said that revenues, which consist chiefly of fees and rents collected before the event, matched projections. In 2005, both revenues and expenses were removed from the general fund budget on the assumption that the first would defray the second and any surplus would be applied to a fund to support law enforcement and emergency services required by the event. Myers said he did not expect a deficit from this year's event.