Laconia revs up for 95th annual Motorcycle Week

Union Leader Correspondent
June 07. 2018 9:13PM
Gov. Chris Sununu was among the state and local leaders who gathered at Gunstock on Thursday to roll out the welcome mat for the thousands of riders that will soon arrive in the Lakes Region for the 95th annual Laconia Motorcycle Week. (Bea Lewis/Union Leader Correspondent)

Laconia is rolling out the red carpet to host the 95th annual Motorcycle Week Saturday through June 17.

State and city leaders gathered Thursday morning at Gunstock Recreation Area in Gilford to announce the newest offerings at the event, coupled with the theme of urging participants to ride safe.

Laconia Police Chief Matt Canfield said safety is the department’s top priority and strongly urged attendees not to drink and drive.

“Our goal is to have zero traffic fatalities during this year’s event,” he said.

Maj. Matthew Shapiro, operations bureau commander of the New Hampshire State Police, said the agency’s motorcycle unit will be escorting four different charity rides during the week.

Cynthia Makris, president of the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association, said the event has earned the AMA designation of being the oldest rally in the world because of a loyal following of riders who return year after year.

“We’ve formed friendships — really relationships — all around riding and the love for what riding means to all of us,” she said.

The event is an economic boon to the region and state and has also helped raise thousands of dollars for a variety of charitable causes, Motorcycle Week Association Director Jennifer Anderson said.

Major events during the week include the return of the hill climb at Gunstock during which both amateurs and pros will pit their machines and muscles against the steep runout of the 70-meter Torger Tokel Memorial Ski Jump.

Gunstock General Manager Greg Goddard said the event will no longer be BYOB and that no coolers or glass will be allowed on the grounds.

Phil Warren, town manager in Meredith, said on Thursday that community will host the 25th annual Freedom Ride at Hesky Park, home of the state’s only POW/MIA memorial. Event organizer Bob Jones Warren urged him to announce that the goal is to have attendance exceed the capacity of the lakeside park.

David McGrath, general manager of New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, said the venue will serve as an anchor destination for riders with 10 days of on-track racing, off-track stunt show, demo rides, vendor displays and live entertainment. 

The week will cap off June 16 with the Loudon Classic, the longest running motorcycle race in America.

The Fritzie Baer Award was presented to K. Peddlar Bridges of Laconia, who authored the book “Laconia Motorcycle Week 1916: The Beginning.” During his research, Bridges discovered the identities of the riders and their winning times posted in 1916 for a hill climb held on Tower Street in Weirs Beach.

This year the U.S. Classic Racing Association will host the Hill Climb Expo at the original site on Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Anderson explained the event started in 1916, but missed seven years as a result of national and world events, making 2018 the 95th anniversary.

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