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Thursday, April 25, 2024

Bikers descend on downtown Leesburg for start of three-day rally

Leesburg Bikefest 2023 is under way.

Motorcyclists from near and far descended on the downtown area Friday to kickstart the three-day rally.

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Motorcycles line Main Street in Leesburg on the opening day of Bikefest 2023.

Among them was a Leesburg native who’s been attending the event for more than two decades. Regina Hovey, who now lives in Lady Lake, proudly displayed the 2015 Indian Roadmaster trike she’s named “Pocahontas.” The unique three-wheeler is willow green and vanilla, with portraits of Native American legends Geronimo on one side and Crazy Horse on the other.

BikeFest 2023 Regina Hovey
Regina Hovey of Lady Lake and the 2015 Indian Roadmaster trike she’s named “Pocahontas.”

“I love the southwest part of the country and southwest themes, and this fits in with that,” said Hovey, who commissioned noted motorcycle artist Chris Cruz to do the work in 2017. She says the bike remains a work in progress. “That shade of green is my favorite color. I’ve even got a painted helmet. “

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Wayne and Marlene Moran of Las Vegas are attending their first Leesburg rally.

Hovey’s a Bikefest veteran, while Wayne and Marlene Moran of Las Vegas are attending their first Leesburg rally. The couple has spent the last month in The Villages purchasing a home.

“We heard about (Bikefest) and figured while we’re here we might as well check it out,” said Wayne while shopping in a souvenir tent with his wife. “We like it so far. It’s a little bigger than I expected. There’s a lot going on. The prices are reasonable, too. We’ve attended other rallies where they really charge a lot for food and drinks. This is a lot better.”

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Mark and Jana Zweig, of Northport, spent some time in a replica jail on the first day of Bikefest 2023 in downtown Leesburg.

Mark and Jana Zweig make the two- to three-hour trip from Northport every year. They say Bikefest is the perfect size.

“We go to Daytona and, of course, that’s a lot bigger,” said Mark after he and Jana got their photo taken behind the bars of a replica jail cell. “This one feels more real. It’s big enough and has everything we want, but it seems more personalized. It’s not ‘too’ big.”

Motorcycles line Main Street on the first day of Bikefest 2023 in Leesburg.

An estimated 100,000 people are expected for the rally, which is spread out over dozens of downtown blocks. They’re joined by more than 100 vendors selling food, beer, mixed drinks, cannabis products, a wide range of naughty and nice apparel, motorcycle parts and accessories, and other bike-themed items and products. Local businesses have rolled out the red carpet for the tourists, as this will be the biggest sales weekend of the year for many.

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Bikefest 2023 attendees watch one of the dozens of bands that will be performing this weekend at Bikefest in downtown Leesburg.

This year’s event is the first three-day Bikefest held on its normal April weekend since before the pandemic. The 2020 rally was canceled, and the 2021 event wasn’t held until November. Organizers followed that with a single-day event last April before returning to full-length this year.

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