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I‘ve been riding for over 50 years, I’ve attended motorcycle events all over the country, but this had to be the best one ever! I expected something special from Harley and they delivered.
Now let me tell you why. Harley went all-out in making things go well. Wherever they sponsored an event or open house it was done very professionally.

The cooperation of the city of Milwaukee and the Department of Transportation was evident. They had traffic signs everywhere directing you to various events and places. Traffic control was great with minimum delays, if any. Law enforcement was very efficient and courteous. The city was clean and the locals welcomed us everywhere we went. Other places that have events should take lessons from Milwaukee.

I mentioned Harley events but there were numerous others that were not sponsored by Harley. The list of places and things to do filled the local newspapers, TV, local event publications and guides. There was so much to do it actually took a little planning.

We decided to do the Harley Owners Group party at Washington County Fair Park, which was off Route 45. As we exited the highway all you could see was fields full of Harleys. This event was open to HOG members only and was packed. There was a Harley Store, HOG & Company, Vendors Mall, and even a Cyber Café. Beer was only $3.00 and water $1.50, the food was good and fairly priced. Numerous bands played throughout the day but the big hit was Jeff Beck who was followed by B.B. King. Now that’s a blues duo if I ever saw one!

One of the big events was the Harley Parade. Around 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, the first of 10,000 Harley’s came to life in the Milwaukee County Zoo parking lot. The parade was led by members of the Davidson family, followed by those who made major donations to the Muscular Dystrophy Association, different chapters of HOG from around the world and then those with special randomly drawn passes.

The parade was lined with hundreds-of thousands of locals and visiting bikers along the 7-mile route. Many ‘welcome” signs and banners were on display, and of course cameras and videos were everywhere documenting the bikers’ ride to the Summerfest grounds.

Harley’s final event was the Birthday Party on Sunday at Veterans Park. The big hype was Harley keeping secret who the performers were to be. That did help promote the 150,000 who paid to attend plus the estimated 50,000 on or about the grounds.
Dan Aykroyd was the Master of Ceremonies. The opening act was the Doobie Brothers and a lot of the younger people did not seem to know them. The Doobies were followed by country singer Tim McGraw, who owns numerous Harleys. His friend, Kid Rock, came out and did a couple of sets. I personally liked him, but there were reports of some objecting to his language. Fuck, you can’t please everyone.

The ‘big surprise” turned out to be Elton John—definitely not my choice. I like stuff like ZZ Top, Great Southern, Eagles. . .you know, the kind of stuff that makes you want to get up and get down! Well, it didn’t take long for people to start leaving and I have to admit I was one of them. The next day the newspapers and TV stations were just full of stories about people complaining. A good source told me there was another entertainer originally planned but at the last minute he cancelled and they had no choice but to go with Elton.

Well, hey. All in all it was a great fuckin’ week.

Willie, I told you after the first event in Atlanta that you throw one helluva party. You and Harley did it again. How about having another party sooner than the 200th? I’m not sure I’ll be around that long.

Those of you that missed it, you’ll be hearing stories about it for a long, long time to come.




This article is from Biker Number 216 January 2004 an Easyriders magazine.

Photography by Rogue.





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