By Cathy DeDe, Chronicle Managing Editor
“This looks like it’s going to be a breakout year,” organizer Christian Dutcher says of the 40th annual Americade Motorcycle Rally.
The event “vrooms” into Lake George — and tours the region — Tuesday to Sunday, May 30 to June 4.
“I’m delighted to say, registrations are ahead of last year, 20 percent, conservatively. We have every reason to believe, if vendors and factories are up and pre- registration has in creased 20 to 25 percent, that will mean an increase in actual attendance, including people who come unannounced. Of course that all has to do with the weather, also,” he adds.
“We changed the dates to one week earlier,” he notes, to avoid conflicts with other events such as the Laconia Motorcycle Rally in New Hampshire, whose dates “overlapped ours years ago,” he said.
“The industry seems to have embraced that. Now our expo will be sold out, with more motorcycle factories and vendors than in at least a decade.”
“Americade is a different type of motorcycling event than just about any other motorcycling event in the country,” said Mr. Dutcher. “We put our emphasis on being family friendly. We’ve been putting a positive face on motorcycling for 40 years.”
“I read somewhere, only seven percent of businesses last 20 years, and here we are at two times 20 years,” Mr. Dutcher said.
Mr. Dutcher, who is about to turn 56, took over operations from his dad Bill Dutcher, who with wife Gini Dutcher founded the rally those 40 years ago.
Always in Lake George, it was originally called “Aspencade,” when the elder Mr. Dutcher purchased the naming rights to a motorcycling event in New Mexico, son Christian recalls.
It was after the September 11 terrorist attacks, he said, that he made the move, from working for a dot-com tech company, to full time Americade.
“I grew up in a household where motorcycles were like bicycles,” the younger Mr. Dutcher says today.
“I remember the very first Aspencade, as teenager working behind the counter and helping, the excited and astonished feeling as more people came than anyone of us imagined.”
The original rally name was focused on a specific Honda motorcycle, Mr. Dutcher recalls. “We changed the name a couple years later to Americade, because we are about all brands.”
“This has always been a family thing,” Mr. Dutcher says. “Despite changes in motorcycling and society. We have stayed true to these roots.”
“To be sure, things have tried to entice us in other directions, like, major beer sponsorships that have come to us, but we don’t do that. We want to remain a family friendly event that is loved by the local community.”
We’re also different. It’s not just a free form organic happening. A few of us work year found on the event. 10 years ago, we had eight people year round. We’ve figured it out now with only two, including yours truly, plus four part time people, all very committed to Americade.”
“Americade always made sense to me. I worked it every year. I’ve always liked customer service, and the intensity of running an event, the countless deadlines.”
Parents Bill and Ginnie “are just great,” Christian adds. “They’re both still participating. And they are caring parents who know the stresses it takes to do this.”
More public events in ‘23
“Every year we try to introduce new things,” Mr. Dutcher says.
“We will have an official cutting of the ribbon,” on Tuesday, May 30, Mr. Dutcher says, to mark the 40-year milestone. “On Friday night (June 2) there will be a ceremony, and some special moments.”
“But really,” Mr. Dutcher says, “we are focused less about celebrating the 40th and more simply about doing new and great things people are going to enjoy.”
Some of “the big ones,” he says:
They’ve shifted all of the Tour Expo Vendors and Demos events to Beach Road, again using the parking area but also expanding onto all four lanes of Beach Road itself, which will be closed to traffic from the Lake George Steamboat Company docks to Canada Street.
“It’ll make for a better experiences for the customers and vendors,” he adds.
“About 30% will be open to the public, for free,” he says, including the launch of a new touring custom motorcycle show called “Bring It,” stunt shows, music, and food trucks.
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