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Harley’s 110th

By Ron Cox

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Every five years The Harley-Davidson Motor Company hosts an Anniversary Celebration in Milwaukee to commemorate its founding and to recognize its customer base. More than 130,000 riders gathered in this town (of half a million) that really knows how to throw a party and treats its guests like royalty.

The centerpiece is the events being offered at Harry Maier Memorial Park, otherwise known as the Summerfest Grounds. Summerfest is a huge 75 acre rectangular park on the shores of Lake Michigan. It contains food and beverage kiosks, souvenir stands and tented exhibits. Harley’s tent introduced the 2014 line of motorcycles. Willie G. and family signed autographs in the HOG Tent. There were several large stages with free entertainment. During the three days more than 60 bands were scheduled to appear. The later in the day, the more recognizable the talent became. Bands like The Doobie Brothers, Joan Jet & The Blackhearts, Blue Oyster Cult and one of my favorites, ZZ Top. Adjacent to Summerfest is the Marcus Amphitheater and with a separate ticket you could see Toby Keith, Aerosmith or Kid Rock, each star appeared on a different night. Another attraction at Summerfest was the Sky Glider, a ski-lift ride that carried you from one end of the park to the other. You could buy a one way ticket or a round trip.

On Saturday, the Motor Company hosted the Motor Skill competition where more than 100 police motor officers (including three women) showed off their skills on a very tricky course. Riders were timed and points deducted for hitting or knocking over any of the cones. If an officer laid his bike down only he could stand it up, no help from the course judges.

Each of the six dealerships in the Milwaukee area (Hal’s, Milwaukee, House, Suburban, Wisconsin and Uke’s) had a stage with live bands and scads and scads of vendors. Not to be left out, many of the communities hosted huge block parties with entertainment, food and vendors lasting well into the night.

The Harley Museum was an extremely popular venue. In addition to walking through Harley’s history, the Museum hosted a Bike Night and the AMD Invitational Custom Bike Show.

If you’re getting the idea there was more to see and do than there was time to do it, you’d be absolutely right! So, if you’re thinking of going to the 115th you’ve got five years to plan and save, but the trip and the experience would be well worth it!

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