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Thursday, April 25, 2024

Attendees say Bikefest stacks up well against other rallies

Considering their relative proximity, comparisons are inevitable between the Leesburg Bikefest and the legendary Daytona Beach Bike Week.

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Members of the band Kegaurus Rex hang out on Main Street during Bikefest 2023 on Saturday.

It’s like David vs. Goliath. Daytona contends with Sturgis as the most popular motorcycle rally in the United States, while Leesburg is a regional event. But many of those attending this weekend’s Bikefest 2023 say they prefer the more modest atmosphere of the local rally.

“It’s a blast, man. We’re having a good time. It’s always good down here in Leesburg,” said Lakeland resident Tommy Ward, who attended along with his friend, Donna, from Plant City. “It’s smaller than Daytona, which we like. It’s just a good time.”

Leesburg Bikefest 2023 was expected to draw more than 100,000 people downtown over three days.

Bob and Rebecca Hall have attended nearly every Bikefest since the first one in the 1990s. They brought the kids and grandkids to Day 2 and were arriving just as the rain started late Saturday afternoon.

“It’s not slowing us down,” Bob said. “Some of the young’uns, when it gets wet, they want to head off. But we’re hard hangers.”

Bikers roll down Main Street in Leesburg as the rain starts to fall Saturday at Bikefest 2023.

The Halls also prefer the hometown feel of BikeFest.

“We go to Daytona for a couple days. Then we wait and come here,” Bob said. “It’s more laid-back here. It’s more like being home, being around people we know. We’ll probably know 90 percent of the people who’ll be at the bandstand tonight.”

patch sewerNot being as big as Daytona doesn’t make the Leesburg event small by any measure. Spread out over 30 downtown blocks, this year’s rally was expected to draw between 100,000 and 200,000 bikers, motorcycle enthusiasts, music fans, and others looking to party at what’s been billed as “the World’s Largest 3-day Motorcycle and Music Event.”

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Motorcyclists compete in Biker Games at Bikefest 2023 in Leesburg on Saturday.

Besides the bikes, the big draw for many attendees was the music. More than 40 bands rocked the four downtown stages. California hard rockers BuckCherry was the headliner on Friday night, while classic rock hair band Warrant was set to perform on the main stage late Saturday night, weather permitting.

Gator Harley-Davidson has three full bars and more than 60 vendors.

The fun wasn’t limited to the downtown area. Gator Harley-Davidson actually got the party started with music on Thursday night and has two bands each day. The local Harley dealership also has three full bars and more than 60 vendors. Windy Acres, a popular campground in Fruitland Park, hosted bands and food trucks.

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Dr. Sprokett performs at Gator Harley-Davidson on Saturday afternoon.

Bikefest 2023 concludes Sunday with a morning church service and music at multiple venues throughout the afternoon.


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