Laconia Shuts Down Bike Week Music Festival

Laconia, New Hampshire’s Bike Week is a motorcycle rally that has successfully pulled in large crowds since 1923. Attendance has ranged from 188,000 to 375,000 people. Despite the track record of fatal motorcycle accidents in the area during the event, it has always been relatively peaceful. Until the summer of ’65.

Riots involving around 10,000 people between motorcycle gangs and local police caused the City of LaconNational Guard at Weir's Beach Riotsia to crack down on the event. Laconia officials no longer saw bike week as a source of tax income, but an inconvenience.

Laconia restricted the event to three days rather than the full week and attendance started to drop. When the city started feeling the loss of money in their pockets in the 90’s, they invited the organization to bring back the week-long festivities.

Here we are today. Bike week at Weir’s Beach in Laconia ran from 1923 to 1965 on its own in peace. A riot, which the state alleges the Hell’s Angels started, brought bureaucratic control to the event.

I was able to attend one day for CopBlock’s week long event at Laconia. Every police department in the area shows up in force. Five departments including state troopers, county sheriffs and even the department at the University of New Hampshire show up for patrol. Small towns who only have a few officers to spare send one or two on a few days out of the week. And the national guard sent around fifteen soldiers in a “non-law enforcement capacity.” According to the UNH officer in the video below.

Bike Cops and Laconia Bike Week 2016

Credit: Matthew Perreault

Aside from a few crashes on the highways (one fatal), the event was peaceful. Happy, even. Everyone was in a good, talkative mood. Even the groups of officers found on every corner were having fun. But this police presence came at a price.

LaconiaFest, the music festival headlining Ted Nugent, shut down on Saturday early after Nugent’s performance. The festival manager said the city overestimated how many people would show and charged more than expected for first responders.

The police who were in groups on every corner, having a fun time, were costing the festival too much. It raises the question, were they necessary, and how willing was the city to send officers home to keep costs down?

The state lacks the ability to respond to the market in a timely manner. If the City of Laconia had a disagreement with festival managers on this issue, I think the city should have listened. The festival I saw did not require four cops on every corner and it did not deserve to have it’s funding drained by a forced monopoly.

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36 Comments

  1. Around 11:30 Last night,  I avoided a Traffic Check point between Laconia and 93 on Route 104. By turning around before the Check Point a State Trooper followed me all the way back to Laconia.. Instead I had to drive about 30 miles back through Weirs Beach and on through Tilton/Franklin. If I didn’t have things to do, and was by myself, I would have loved to not cooperate with the Violation. Ugh! Another time, it would have been fun to set up a Rights Violation Warning Point, to help the kind folks of New Hampshire. 🙂

  2. americancitizenship 

    I would like
    to share a brief story that describes why I believe NH wants the Loudon rally
    gone.
    On June 18,
    2016 at approx. 7:00 am we are heading north on I-93N. A Beautiful sunny day
    and obviously no rain. A guy on an old shovel head with a passenger comes off
    the ramp and twists the thing. The speed limit is 70 mph and there are 2
    lanes.The guy on the bike that’s going
    for gold is in front of us. He has two cars in front of him. In the slow lane
    are two other cars, and they are only a tiny bit slower than us.
    I’m guessing
    everyone was going 80- 85 mph or so….fast
    A mile or
    two later, we come up on two NH State troopers in the breakdown lane. At that
    point we had moved over into the slow lane and we were doing 70 – 75 mph
    My friend is
    ahead of me and I am behind. The cop pulls out with blue lights on and pulls up
    along side. My first reaction was that she was off after that hound-dog that
    was in front of us going 90+ mph. She signals me over. She does the same to my
    friend in front of me, she pulls both of us over. As we pull over, we notice
    the second state trooper car has another pair of bikes pulled over. As we
    pulled away after the ticket, a third set of bikes were being pulled over.
    A classic
    pull-over situation, no need for the boring details. She says an Airplane
    measured our speed at 87 Mph (that puts us 17 mph over the 70 mph limit) and
    the fine is $372.00!!!Was there a
    f-ing bike-week surcharge in there I don’t know about !!
    The problem is this: First, yes we probably
    were speeding. However, I have a problem with the execution. The state on NH
    went to the trouble of using an airplane to identify speeders, in addition,
    from what I could see they were only pulling over bikes….. Discrimination against
    bikers?

  3. I will never go to the Laconia rally again. I started going in 1966. This year they had a lot more cops out raising revenue. Myself and a friend were pulled from a group of mostly cars traveling at the same speed on I-93 and given  $372.00 speeding tickets for exceeding the limit by 17mph. The speed trap was using a spotter airplane. I am a big boy and can take my punishment. My problem is with the selective enforcement. THEY WERE ONLY TICKETING MOTORCYCLES. They already had two motorcyclists pulled over, not one car was stopped. We then observed the police using the same tactics on State Road 106 by the race track. We pump a large amount of money into the local economy during Bike Week but that doesn’t seem to be enough for the New Hampshire State Police. Laconia used to be a good time, but back in the 1990s the town hired a police chief that vowed to change the rally into a “family oriented” rally. Can anyone explain what a family oriented biker rally is? I have had my fill of that place and will never spend my money there again.D. Powers, Boston MA

  4. “Traffic check point” = Police State.

  5. So they shut down another out of control festival. This means what? Do you do the books for the city? You have several thousand people on bikes and the police are going to monitor the roads very closely. If you don’t speed and drive inappropriately, you have nothing to worry about.

  6. americancitizenship Why did you turn around”

  7. Jumping Jacks  Out of control? Why? Because bikers are there? Every city in the area insisted on sending half their force even though we know they were needed. For what? To stand around and have a good time. Speeding has nothing to do with it. 4-5 cops everywhere you look is not a justifiable cost for this event that has had only one issue out of the 93 years it has been running. 43 of those years without control from the city.

  8. Para011862  The calls over the radio for motorcycles pulled over were constant. All those out of state bikes there to have fun means a lot of people unable or unwilling to fight a ticket. They’re easy targets for bullies looking for revenue.

  9. americancitizenship  No need to put up with that nonsense, sometimes it’s best just to avoid it. It’s nerve wracking having a cop follow you, but the longer they follow you without a reason to pull you over, the longer you’re keeping them from harassing people at unconstitutional checkpoints.

  10. so now you see what is wrong with profiling blacks ,after the blacks comes the bikers ,it is for raising funds not law inforcement  stand up for your rights

  11. also selling tickets for ted nugent $67 that was the real crime they had to lower it to $ 5 still not a big turn out

  12. eglove Jumping Jacks You are wrong. Extra police were and are needed for these types of events. It only takes one drunk to start something that can get out of control. You can still have fun with the police officers around. Stop whining

  13. Jumping Jacks “these types of events,” I’m sure you think every bar needs at least 30 police officers being paid $50K a year from the taxpayer plus overtime from the bar. It’s ignorant people like you that are costing thousands of people money, having real, peaceful events shut down for no reason.

  14. eglove americancitizenship

    your attitude is scary.

  15. NH loves all law abiding visitors to our great state. The only problems arise when people drink or drug and drive or start fights.
    It’s understandable the police would be more vigilant when large groups of fun loving people congregate because you can always count on a small contingency not to follw the rules. We don’t want them or anyone else injured.

  16. boysx8  Were talking about a place that had no issues and hasn’t had any issues in 51 years with groups of police on every corner, every street. You know that’s an unnecessary cost that hurts only the people. You don’t buy 16 cars and say, “Well, I needed to get to work, it’s a shame I have hundreds of dollars of debt, but it had to be done.”

  17. boysx8 You want to destroy events, cause employees their paychecks, just so police can stand around and do nothing. Which is exactly what happened. Don’t downgrade the force to make the costs appropriate to the crowd and resources, just keep vampiring money out of the taxpayers and into the cities pockets. Your attitude is dangerous.

  18. boysx8

    If problems arise when people drink, how come NH holds a forcible monopoly on liquor sales?

    Anyway, I think it’s great that New Hampshire told the Feds to pound sand when it disobeyed federal law by approving medical marijuana which is on the federal controlled drug schedule…which is the same schedule that NH says it uses.

    Of course, NH will STILL use that same schedule when it comes time to convict people.   It would seem a lawyer type might be curious about that inconsistency.  How can a State, break a federal law as a “defendant” and then also benefit from using the same federal law to convict people when it is the plaintiff ?

    Please all you cops that read these threads, go arrest the governor, and send that “fun loving secessionist” Maggie Hassan off to Myrtle Beach if she can’t “obey the law”  !!

  19. Jumping Jacks eglove

    Hey all those people in the past at this event who were cited for “indecent exposure” or whatever they call baring your nipples will be getting their fine money back from the “authorities” now right?

    I mean, “the authorities” wouldn’t keep money from fines that were later struck down as illegal fines would they?   Do you think some of those nice police officers will investigate this and “do justice” for those who had their money stolen ?

  20. Was the event peaceful? I believe it was. So… a big thank you to the police officers!!!

  21. Eglove is an asshat and his former partner JP is a bigger asshat. I bet JP is burning over the fact that Ethan is a free Keene blogger. Didn’t JP try to be a blogger at free Keene and was shot down. Oh the butthurt!

  22. The last time my husband and I went to Laconia was back in 2009.  We stopped going basically because Laconia has become lame. Bike events aren’t suppose to be “family friendly” events.  If you want family friendly, go to Disneyland.  Not every event is meant for families.  I wish I lived closer to Sturgis, SD. They know how to run a biker event.  Sure they have a police presence, but they certainly aren’t trying to kill the goose that spends the golden dollars like Laconia.  I know I’m not missed by any of the non-bikers who read this, but my $$ certainly is.

  23. harleychix There are  plenty of non-bikers that go to bike week, but are struggling to enjoy it as of late with decreasing turnout and problems like these. The government needs to learn to back off when its not needed, but power is a hell of a drug.

  24. JackCracker1  Thank the police officers for draining their resources and shutting down LaconiaFest when they obviously weren’t needed in as many numbers. It’s disgusting to me that you’d prefer to see people lose their paychecks and see people’s event, that they’ve been planning for all year, destroyed just so you can jump up in down in joy over “patriotism.”

  25. SusanReedKenney americancitizenship Because I didn’t have the time to resist the Rights violation. As I said before, if I was alone I would have taken the opportunity to educate the enforcers… The warning sign ahead said “Sobriety Check Point Ahead” and I was thankful for the warning and I traveled another route.

  26. JackCracker1

    You have confused imposed order with peace.  It happens commonly though.

    You can’t use a forcible means to achieve a peaceful end.   Had the security been paid by voluntary means and mutual agreement of all involved it would have been peaceful.

    Since the security derived its funding from a forcible means, the best it could provide was forcibly imposed order.   I realize the veracity of my assertion may escape your agreement as well as your  comprehension. 

    Have a nice day and please be kind to words.

  27. The author of this piece of fiction knows darn well that all the cops weren’t there just for the music festival and that most of them were there for bike week.  Also he neglects to point out that it was the musical festival itself that originally overestimated what attendance would be at their concerts and as those original estimates turned out to be wrong over time the city was willing to scale back on the number of cops and ambulances they required at that event.  Also who is going to believe that Laconia is just going to let other towns tell them we are sending half our cops like it or not if they are not needed.  And just like a typical cop blocker does the title of this article is totally inaccurate for what happened.  The festival was not shut down by Laconia at all.

  28. eglove harleychix Can you tell us what the exact amount was for the police details? Per day and in total? Also, Many vendors are saying they weren’t paid – can you refute the claim, with details, on why this is not an attempt on your part to shift the blame to the police details when it looks like poor planning and poor fiscal management.

  29. DaveBigelow  That’s funny, everything you say directly contradicts the actual facts of the situation. Meh.

  30. RossTerrio Weren’t paid beginning with issues with the city, as per Laconia’s track record. Managers left after issues with the city, not after issues with vendors, it was they who didn’t pay employees and contractors (vendors? vendors pay THEM to be there) after the issues with the city.

  31. GGGMAN  Your mom is my toaster strudel.

  32. tempf451  Any shot at making some cash, governments jump at. Even if it drains the festivals resources, they can just back off for a bit, let it grow, and then start the whole process all over again.

  33. WEEDA CLAUS JackCracker1  Private security would have been cheaper, more efficient, and much more likely to react to the money situation without issue.

  34. boysx8 eglove americancitizenship

    The benefits of a free market over an unfree market are demonstrable. 

    What do you find scary about voluntary business interactions as opposed to involuntary ones?

  35. boysx8 eglove americancitizenship Can you elaborate…?

  36. When you turn around at a check point it looks highly suspicious. You could have flagged an officer over and told them you wanted to go around instead of waiting. Even as a citizen when I see people blow a u-turn at a check point, I think..Huh, drugs, drunk, suspended license or arrest warrant.

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