LAKEGEORGE-Despite doses of rain, a move to a new venue and some advance uncertainty related to negotiations with state officials, the Americade 2011 motorcycle rally was a substantial success, event founder Bill Dutcher said Tuesday.
While declining to reveal attendance numbers, Dutcher said the attendance may have been slightly lower than recent years, but it prospered anyway.
The move of rally headquarters from Roaring Brook Ranch to Fort William Henry was smooth, he said, yielding benefits for the many thousands of registered attendees.
"Our primary concern was the move from Roaring Brook Ranch after 28 years there - carrying it off was critically important to the future of the event - and it went very well - far better than we thought it would," Dutcher said.
The temporary traffic light installed on Canada St. to keep motorcycles moving in and out of Fort William Henry worked well through the week, he said. Renting the mobile equipment and manning the signal, as state law requires, cost Dutcher's enterprise well in excess of $10,000.
The rally not only featured a record number of events, but a new high tally of motorcycle manufacturers offering demonstration rides - a much-anticipated feature of the rally.
Americade 2011 prompted a surprisingly large number of glowing comments from attendees, he said, noting that all the feedback was positive.
Receiving a lot of praise were the accommodations and staff of Fort William Henry Resort, Dutcher said.
"We received hundreds of positive comments on the food, service and staff at Fort William Henry," he said. "Their staff was particularly cordial, and they put in an exceptional effort."
The rally's boat cruises, mini-tours and the rodeo at Painted Pony were also well received, he added.
But Dutcher said he had seen on Americade message boards that the protracted negotiations with the state Department of Environmental Conservation over rental fees of the Million Dollar Beach parking lot - which nearly forced a move out-of-state this year - apparently prompted some potential attendees to stay home. DEC officials had sought to triple the price Americade paid, but relented in spring under pressure from politicians to keep the price near its historic levels. He said the well-publicized controversy, and the lack of certainty the rally would remain in New York State, most likely kept some riders away.