Port Washington officials are getting revved up by the possibility of drawing roughly 20,000 people to the city during Harley-Davidson's 110th Anniversary Celebration week in 2013.
Suburban Motors Harley-Davidson of Theinsville and members of the Port Washington Main Street Program have partnered on an idea to host a festival in the city on Aug. 29, 2013 — the Thursday before the official celebration weekend.
The Port Washington Common Council on Tuesday gave Main Street approval to continue planning the event, which Main Street Executive Director Sara Grover said would be no small festival, adding that 20,000 attendees is a low guess.
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"This would be a massive undertaking in the least … the times of this event would be from 3 p.m. until about 11 p.m. at night — the set up, though, would start the day before," Grover said. "The demographic (of Harley riders) is a spending demographic, and, of course, that’s what we want here in Port Washington."
Now that the city has approved the event, Suburban Motors can pitch the idea of the event to Harley-Davidson officials. If officials at headquarters like Port's planned event, the city's name will appear on the 110th Anniversary Celebration ticket as one of the places to stop.
But officials said the festival will take place with or without that support from Harley.
Ald. Jim Vollmar expressed concern about being able to motivate riders to make the trip to Port, recalling a small attendance to events in the city for the company's 100th anniversary event in Milwaukee.
"I'm enthusiastic about this, but I'm concerned that we might get ready for a big party and nobody (shows)," Vollmar said.
"I remember the 100th as well," Grover said, "and while it was bleak it did have a good showing. I think Port Washington is in a different place now than it was."
Cathy Wilger, a member of the board who has been meeting with Suburban Motors to talk about the event, said the support of the dealership alone should have a huge impact on attendance.
"Suburban is a large dealership and … this was their pick. So, we're supported by them," Wilger said, adding that the dealership had talked about coordinating a ride up the lakefront to draw people to Port.
For the most part, city officials were enthusiastic about the festival, and certain it would only be a positive addition to the calendar of events.
"Obviously we are tourist town, we like bringing people into our community. What’s neat about this is a new event, it’s not happening all the time," Ald. Dan Becker said. "I don’t see anything bad that can come out of this, I think it's just a win-win for the community."
Echoing that praise, Ald. Paul Neumyer said, "it’s a group of people that are going to come to town and (enjoy) our businesses, and I think it’s a win-win for us."