By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — The Laconia Motorcycle Association has agreed to join forces with the other two major motorcycle rallies in the country for marketing and advertising.
Executive Director Charlie St. Clair said the agreement with the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally held annually in August and the Dayton Bike Rally held annually in March will bring more money into the Rally News, which, along with a new website and attendance at motorcycle shows, is the primary vehicle used for marketing Laconia Motorcycle Week.
"The money thing is tough," said St. Clair at a meeting at the Belknap Mill Thursday night held to gather feedback about last year's Motorcycle Week.
St. Clair said they are fortunate to have the major sponsors they have, like Progressive Insurance, Amsoil, and Hot Leathers, along with others. and support from its board members, which include the city of Laconia and town of Meredith, Faro Italian Grille, the Naswa, Ames Corporation, Hot Leathers and Weirs Action Committee. "We also enjoy the support of our rally patrons," he said.
St. Clair said there has been a proliferation of many smaller motorcycle events over the years, about 800 of them, and while he doesn't consider them "rallies" in the sense that Laconia's Motorcycle Week is, they are siphoning off some of the people from the three major United States events.
"This has never been done in this country," St. Clair said. "We're not competing. We complement each other. Any competition is a challenge. We want (motorcyclists) to come to one of the big three."
Board President Cynthia Makris welcomed back the Weirs Action Committee as a board member of the Laconia Motorcycle Association. The WAC withdrew from their position on the board in 2014 when, facing financial hardships, the Motorcycle Association restored its dues from $2,000 back to $5,000.
Over the summer and after the 2016 rally, the two sides reached a compromise such that the WAC would pay the $5,000 in dues and the Laconia Motorcycle Association would withdraw its bid for the parking concessions at Endicott Park.
Other information passed on to residents was that the New Hampshire Motor Speedway would be expanding its operations, which will include a North East Motor Sports Museum that will have a display at both of their scheduled NASCAR races and Laconia Motorcycle Week.
The speedway has also rejoined of Motorcycle Week Association as a board member.
For the first time, there were no complaints about policing, although both city and state police sent representatives to the conference. Those attending last night's meeting gave the police a round of applause for the great job they did this past year.
While some mention was made regarding the fiasco surrounding Laconia Fest, St. Clair said that the concept was a good one and he hopes that someone will come forward who can make a similar event work.
(Editor's note: This story has been edited to correct several errors regarding sports, the Motorcycle Week board, and other minor details. Also, the advertising costs will not be shared by the Sturgis or Daytona motorcycle events.)
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