By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
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.
Just a handful of people attended LaconiaFest Tuesday afternoon. (Michael Kitch/Laconia Daily Sun)