LaconiaFest fails to draw crowds


LACONIA — Four days into Motorcycle Week, with rock icon Steven Tyler set to take the stage at the Weirs Beach Drive-In tonight, LaconiaFest, the weeklong series of concerts featuring more than two dozen bands, has begun with more sound than fury as neighbors complained of the noise but few listened to the music.

Attendance, expected to number in the thousands, rarely reached 200 and Tuesday afternoon, as a woman sang to the accompaniment of a lone guitar, her audience could be counted on the fingers of two hands. A handful of men hung over the rail from the otherwise empty V.I.P. Tower in front of the main stage. Vendors offering food and drink passed the time sunning behind vacant bars. A lone couple at the foot of the stage embraced and swayed as the music played.

Before the weekend was out, staff were admitting people without tickets or charge. "That left the ones who had bought tickets pretty upset," one woman familiar with the situation remarked. "It's been like this since it began," said one member of the venue staff, waving a hand at the barren expanse of asphalt.

No one will be admitted free in the coming days, though, said Charlie St. Clair, executive director of the Laconia Motorcycle Week.

In the meantime, the presence of law enforcement officers and emergency personnel is out of all proportion to the numbers. Anticipating crowds of up to 30,000, Laconia Police supplemented their number with officers drawn from other municipalities and the Laconia Fire Department prepared for large crowds.

A year ago, similar event was cancelled not long before Motorcycle Week began. This year, the promoters booked celebrated performers and invested significantly in the venue. Nevertheless, once again, rock 'n roll appears not to have attracted the anticipated crowds, but fortunes could change with Tyler, Bret Michaels and Ted Nugent scheduled to top the bill for the next three nights.

Attempts to reach the festival promoter for comment were unsuccessful.

06-14 LaconiaFest no audience

Just a handful of people attended LaconiaFest Tuesday afternoon. (Michael Kitch/Laconia Daily Sun)



Charity rides prove popular with bikers at Cycle Week


LACONIA — Charity rides are showing good results so far in the 93rd edition of Laconia Motorcycle Week.
Jennifer Anderson, director of Laconia Motorcycle Week, said at a press conference held at the Naswa Resort Tuesday that the 3rd annual Mae West Memorial Pet Run, which was held Monday morning, drew over 125 riders and raised over $10,000 for the New Hampshire Humane Society.
The event, sponsored by Sick Boy Motorcycles, is named for cat that Charlie St. Clair, executive director of the Laconia Motorcycle Week, adopted from the Humane Society and was his pet for 12 years.
St. Clair noted that "every penny raised goes to the Humane Society" and said that additional funds are still anticipated for the event.
Cynthia Makris, president of the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association, said that the 10th annual Peter Makris Memorial Run, which was held Saturday morning and kicks off Motorcycle Week activities, raised over $45,000. She said that bikers are very generous and help support many charitable activities.
Laconia Police Chief Chris Adams said that the event has been very peaceful with well-behaved crowds and under a dozen arrests, mostly for public intoxication, in the first three days.
He said that the weather forecast "for 80s and sunny the rest of the week" means that the crowds will get larger heading into the weekend.
Anderson said a large turnout is expected today for the annual motorcycle hill climb event which is being held by the Ridge Runners Club on Route 118 in Canaan. She said there was a lot of activity at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, including vintage racing and demonstration rides from seven different motorcycle manufacturers.
St. Clair said that some 230 people took part on a cruise Monday night aboard the M/S Mount Washington which left from Weirs Beach.

"It was a nice ride, very relaxing," he said.
Upcoming rides include a Gypsy Tour of covered bridges today, which leaves Rally Headquarters on Lakeside Avenue at 10:30 a.m. The 200-mile ride will take riders to, and in some cases, across, several wooden covered bridges.
The 23rd POW/MIA Freedom Ride, on Thursday, June 16, will line up beginning at 5 p.m. in the Lowe's parking lot on Lakeshore Road/Route 11 in Guilford, and the ride will begin at 6 p.m. It will bring riders to the New Hampshire POW/MIA memorial at Husky Park in Meredith, where a vigil will be held at 7 p.m.
On Friday, June 17, the inaugural We Love Laconia Motorcycle Week Ride, featuring celebrities and Laconia Mayor Ed Engler, will be held. The two-hour guided tour leaves from Rally Headquarters at 9:30 a.m. and ends at the Laconia Roadhouse. Fee is $50 per rider, $25 per passenger, and includes swag, catered lunch, parking and entertainment. Proceeds benefit Laconia Motorcycle Week.

IronLilies 14Jun16259175 DS

Donna Lucas and Cindy Grasso are among the group joining Samantha Campana, Leticia Cline, Lilly James and Kissa Von Adams of the Orlando Iron Lilies for their group ride to the Kancamagus Highway from Laconia Harley Davidson on Tuesday morning. (Karen Bobotas/for the Laconia Daily Sun)

Free the Nipple proponent fights city for right to bare breasts


LACONIA — Heidi Lilley of Gilford, the woman at the forefront of the Free the Nipple movement, appeared before the City Council this week, dressed in a blouse and jeans and accompanied by Dan Hynes, her attorney, wearing a brown suit.

Hynes told the councilors that the city ordinance, which forbids "the showing of the female breast with less than a fully opaque covering of any part of the nipple" in a public place, violates the United States Constitution. He said that the ordinance infringes on the fundamental rights of individuals and discriminates against women and reminded the councilors that should it be challenged, it would be liable to "strict scrutiny," the highest standard the court can apply. He urged the council to enact what he called "a gender neutral ordinance."

Councilor Bob Hamel (Ward 5) replied that 50 people had just died in Orlando, Florida, three-quarters of Laconia schoolchildren qualify for free or reduced lunch, the Boys & Girls Club of the Lakes Region is full of children from broken homes and the Senior Center feeds hundreds of elderly residents. Under the circumstances, he called Lilley's issue "pretty pathetic" and suggested she "put her thoughts in more caring ways."

Lilley said that she worked in hospice care and insisted "I do not want to show my breasts. My issue is women have the same rights as men." As she spoke, Councilor Brenda Baer (Ward 4) said "You live in Gilford," and Councilor Armand Bolduc (Ward 6) said "Go back to Gilford."

Undaunted, Lilley handed Mayor Ed Engler a proposal that she said would address the issue of harassment.

The city enacted the prohibition to discourage men from encouraging women to bare their breasts, particularly during Motorcycle Week. Lilley said that her proposal would address the issue of harassment without discriminating against women.

Meanwhile, a pair of young women, colorfully painted above the waist, tested the ordinance Tuesday as they touted a body art concession strolling among the crowd at Motorcycle Week on Lakeside Avenue. As cameras clicked, they passed two police officers who were left to ponder whether paint qualifies as "opacity," which the law requires as a covering for nipples.

06-15 nipples and body paint at Bike Week

Covered in body paint, these women flirted with the limits of the city ordinance prohibiting women from baring their breasts in public on Lakeside Avenue during Motorcycle Week. (Michael Kitch/Laconia Daily Sun)