To The Daily Sun,
Motorcycle week is more than a rally or making a quick buck.
As someone who has been involved with Motorcycle Week since the late 1940s, I see the changes and they are all for the better. Those early years here I worked at the Belknap Area — now Gunstock — and we hosted the rally and national road race in the Area. I saw it grow and with that growth came a tough, carousing crowd, venting and causing multiple problems that eventually led to its cancellation at the area in 1962. The national race was also canceled and as a result, the only place for the riders to go was The Weirs with not much to do and public drinking not allowed. The crowds began to decline.
In 1991, along came Charlie St. Clair, who formed the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association with other sponsors. They came with new ideas and changes in traffic patterns, scheduling many new events, reviving the publication of the official guide book and increasing its distribution by Charlie traveling thousands of miles every year, all over the country promoting Laconia Bike Week. The attendance grew from 38,000 for a three-day event in 1990 — the year before Charlie took over — and grew to over 350,000.
When talking to Charlie, he will tell you his job is to sell Laconia and New Hampshire. He has done that.
People who came here for the Rally, fell in love with New Hampshire and particularly Laconia. They have returned year after year, many come at other times of the year. Many have bought second homes here.
Yes, times change, and the people who come here for the week have changed. They are no longer the thrill seeking, rowdy crowd we once had. We now have people just like you and me. Doctors, lawyers, blue collar workers, whole families. Even our mayor and Councilor Hamel are riders and enjoy the event and other events as well.
Speaking of other events, there are so many more events than ever and each one offers something different. People can't go to all of them. We offer something no one else does: The most beautiful city and state of all of them. An event that families can come to and enjoy without fear.
Laconia Motorcycle Week is a success story for Charlie and Jenn Anderson. They have made the country and the world aware of New Hampshire and that it is a place to go. They have succeeded in selling Laconia and New Hampshire.
City Councilor, Ward 4
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