Americade, the weeklong touring motorcycle rally, has returned for a 33rd year.
The event, which runs through Saturday, typically draws between 60,000 and 100,000 people, depending on the weather, and brings in close to $35 million for the village of Lake George, according to the Lake George Regional Chamber of Commerce.
Michael Consuelo, executive director of the chamber, said the numbers for Americade used to be even bigger, but attendance has decreased slowly over time.
“It’s a much older group of riders, so they can’t ride like they used to. So I think the numbers have slowly come down over the years,” Consuelo said.
Consuelo said most of the revenue generated by Americade comes from things like hotel rooms, shops and restaurants. He said weather has a major impact on attendance.
“Our hotels are all full, and now it’s just a matter of weather,” said Consuelo.
Olivia Jarem, manager of A Christmas to Remember, said Americade offers a chance for local businesses to reconnect with customers, as most village businesses are closed during the winter.
“It kind of kick-starts the summer,” said Jarem. “We stay open later because there is finally foot traffic.”
She said that despite it being open mainly in the summer, the shop sells many Lake George-themed Christmas ornaments to visitors who wish to have something to remember their trip by.
“It’s great for the town and for business,” Jarem said.
Restaurants along the lake also benefit from the presence of Americade riders. Tony Merrill, a manager at The Sticky Bun Coffee Shop, said the rally usually brings a spike in business right before the lull in the weeks leading to July 4.
“Americade is here, and then it slows down for a few weeks, and then July 4 comes and it picks right up,” said Merrill.
Americade organizer Christian Dutcher said this will be the first time Americade will include a concert series. The series will showcase five bands starting at 4 p.m. Saturday, including Erin Lewis, a noted country artist.
The event does have some people concerned however. A May 17 shootout between two rival motorcycle gangs left nine people dead in Waco, Texas, but Dutcher said that while he can understand people’s concern, a similar incident at Americade is very unlikely
“We are such a different audience and a different part of the motorcycle spectrum,” Dutcher said.
Both Jarem and Merrill said they have never experienced any inappropriate behavior from an Americade participant.
“In all honesty it’s almost the opposite,” said Jarem. “Everyone is really respectful and in good moods.”
While the likelihood of violence is considered to be low, Warren County Sheriff Nathan York said his deputies will be monitoring the event both in uniform and undercover.
“We want to make sure we have people undercover, just to make sure we have eyes and ears out,” York said.
York also said members of gangs like the infamous Hells Angels have attended the event in the past, but there has never been any serious issues. He said managing traffic is likely to be the most pressing issue law enforcement will face.