Strap on your helmets. Ohio Bike Week is back. The 10-day event, formerly known as North Coast Thunder Rally, kicks off today.
This year's rally brings with it a variety of events to the area.
"We wanted to add some events, not just for the biker community, but things the whole community could enjoy," said event planner Julie Roeder of Roeder Harley-Davidson.
The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall Exhibit will be on display at the Erie County Courthouse for all 10 days of the event. The exhibit is free of charge and will be open to the public 24 hours a day.
Saturday, a winery tour and hog roast will take place at Matus Winery and the Grammy-nominated band, Buckcherry, will perform live at the Erie County Fairgrounds, hitting the stage at 9 p.m.
Put-in-Bay is hosting Biker Day on Sunday and a cage fighting match will take place at the fairgrounds June 8.
All Harley Drag Racing Association qualifications and finals will take place at Norwalk Raceway Park on June 9 and 10, closing out the 10-day event.
"This is one reason why we pick this time ... races are usually a big part of motorcycle rallies," Roeder said.
Downtown Sandusky will be closed off June 9 for a bike parade and a block party -- complete with vendors and live entertainment.
"It fills the void in the early tourist season. The crowds typically aren't here yet. That's why the community seems to embrace the timing of it," she said.
New this year will be the Rock'n Horse Entertainment & Vendor Area at the fairgrounds. It will be open for all 10 days and will host one of two world famous Broken Spoke Saloons.
All access passes to Ohio Bike Week are still available for purchase. The $100 pass includes a ticket to Cedar Point, a round-trip pass to Put-in-Bay, free bike passage to Kelleys Island, tickets to Buckcherry and cage fighting, tickets to the races, an Ohio Bike Week pin or patch, VIP parking at the Broken Spoke Saloons and unlimited shuttle service around town. The pass is valued at $250.
"Even if you're going to attend only a few events, it's money well spent," Roeder said. "The value is still there even if you don't do it all."
Today's events includes live bands, vendors, bike builders and stunt riders at Roeder Harley-Davidson on U.S. 250. A battle of the bands competition will also take place at the Erie County Fairgrounds.
Roeder estimates about 60,000 people will attend the rally within the next 10 days. Last year, the rally brought in about 30,000 people.
"It's really hard to estimate since people don't have to register," she said. "Basing it off the growth ... we've been doubling attendance."
The North Coast Thunder Rally was started when the local chapter of the Ohio State Harley Owners Group hosted the state H.O.G. rally in Sandusky in 1999 and 2000. City officials enjoyed the event so much that the rally started. What began as just a weekend rally was eventually extended to 10 days. The rally was also renamed Ohio Bike Week. Now, the rally has grown to include events at the fairgrounds.
Ohio Bike Week
WHEN: Today through June 10
WHERE: Various locations in Sandusky, Put-in-Bay and Kelleys Island
COST: Prices vary; many attractions are free; an all-access pass is $100
INFO: OhioBikeWeek.com or call the hotline at 419-621-0202
TODAY: Kick-start party with live bands, vendors, bike builders and stunt riders at Roeder Harley-Davidson on U.S. 250. The Battle of the Bands at the Broken Spoke Rockin' Horse location at the Erie County Fairgrounds.
Saturday: Winery tour with hog roast at Matus Winery. Take this scenic ride through the Firelands area and its quaint villages. Buckcherry performs live in concert at the Erie County Fairgrounds.
Sunday: Biker Day at Put-in-Bay or All Country Sunday at the fairgrounds.
The following road closures will be in effect beginning at approximately 5 p.m. Wednesday and will remain in effect through 8 a.m. June 10.
• Columbus Avenue will be closed between Water Street and Adams Street
• Water Street, Market Street, East & West Washington Row
• Washington Street will be closed between Wayne and Jackson Streets.
• A First Aid Station will be set up in the 100 block of West Market Street.
• The Jackson Street Parking Lot (between Water & Market Streets) will be a "paid parking lot" during the entire event and all proceeds will be donated to charitable entities.