Americade rally draws crowds

LAKE GEORGE - Recent months' economic news didn't substantially dampen attendance at this past week's Americade motorcycle rally, government and event officials said Tuesday.

The mother of all touring motorcycle rallies was too much of a draw and has a loyal following that's not deterred by angst over the nation's economic woes, they said.

Lake George Mayor Robert Blais said that Americade, which is estimated to bring in an average of $46 million annually to area businesses and residents, was nearly as strong as ever.

"Americade week is undoubtedly the largest week of the entire summer season, in numbers and in revenue," he said, estimating this year's crowd was down 8 percent or so from recent years, which set records.

Those area businesses surveyed Monday reported strong revenue for this year's event. Most echoed Blais' estimates, while others said they'd had their best crowds and strongest revenues ever.

"We're certainly very fortunate to have such a well-run rally as Americade, that folks want to come back to, year after year," Blais said. "I speak to hundreds of attendees, and they repeatedly praise Americade's organization and activities."

Americade organizer Bill Dutcher also said he was happy with the turnout, and that a late surge of day-trippers made up for an expected decline in pre-registrants.

Kawasaki factory representatives, he said, reported their best year ever for demonstration rides. They reported it was the most demonstration rides they had conducted ever at any rally, anywhere, Dutcher said.

While paid entries and attendance figures weren't yet tallied, the parking lot next to the rally's TourExpo hosted far more vehicles, and vendors were very happy with the heavy attendance, he said.

"Vendors were very, very pleased," he said. "There were enormous crowds Saturday morning in particular."

Dutcher said that while 2009 Americade attendance may have experienced a decline of several percentage points, other rallies nationally were down 35 percent or more, or had been cancelled.

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