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City Plans to Host Block Party During Harley 110th Anniversary

Suburban Motors Harley-Davidson in Thiensville and the Port Washington Main Street Program are working together to create the event during the week of the motorcycle company's 110th Anniversary celebration in 2013.

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 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.

  • Do you support the idea of a festival catering to Harley riders? Vote in our poll at the end of this story.

"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."

JB April 18, 2012 at 01:31 PM
Awesome idea BUT advertize correctly and offer a reason for riders to come here; good bands, food, beer tents, discounts at local shops, etc. they will come. And yes, 20,000 is a low ball estimate. The Harley Anniversay parties draw 100's of thousands to the area. This one day event could pour millions into the local economy.
Howard Hinterthuer April 18, 2012 at 01:44 PM
What is the weather forecast for that day? Seems to be we also risk losing a whole lot of money. Our city can't afford it and neither can our merchants. Grover's schemes are breaking the backs of the people she is supposed to be helping.
Richard Husting April 18, 2012 at 02:53 PM
There is no way anyone can predict what the weather is going to be on a particular day. So if we go by that none of the outdoor events should take place. I say lets go forward and hope for the best. If it brings in people that are going to spend money and see our fine City I'm all for it.
Greg April 18, 2012 at 06:35 PM
I think it's a good and possible idea. I was involved in a similar event, for the last aniversary, it was a good time for all. I would suggest not over complicating the event, by over planning. It would be over one year away, which is more than enough time to screw it up. Some people would prefer to see DT Port die a quiet death, Howard, but I think the risk is worth the rewards. As for weather, if you have it they will come. After all, we are not talking Submarine Races here.

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