Laconia, N.H., delays annual motorcycle rally amid coronavirus pandemic

Thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts have been gathering in the New Hampshire city for decades. Boston Globe/File

The annual Laconia Motorcycle Week in Laconia, N.H., which bills itself as the world’s oldest motorcycle rally, has been postponed from June to August because of the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers said.

In a statement on Facebook, organizers said the Laconia City Council had voted Monday to push the rally back from its originally scheduled week of June 13-21 to a new date of Aug. 22-Aug. 30.

Laconia City Manager Scott Myers said Tuesday via e-mail that the vote was “a difficult one for the Laconia City Council.”

Myers said the city “will continue to communicate with the Governor’s office and assess the current health conditions as the new date gets closer. We understand that moving the date to August presents some challenges and concerns for our different hospitality businesses, but we also know that Motorcycle Week is a large economic boost for Laconia and the state. The goal of the City Council is to support our local economy in a safe and responsible manner.”

The annual rally, which has corporate sponsors and draws thousands of motorcyclists to the city of roughly 16,400, dates back to 1916, according to its official website.

That year, “the first group of gypsy tour riders made the trek up US Route 3, a mostly dirt road that wound its way through the mountains, valleys and straightaways of rural New Hampshire. Back then, a trip to Laconia, a popular tourist destination even then, was a day-long trip and an even bigger commitment on two-wheels," the site read. "What made the trip worth it was the camaraderie, fresh air, accessibility and, most importantly, scenery.”

On the organizers’ Facebook page, reactions to the postponement were mixed.

“Better to be safe than sorry especially since people come from all over to bike week,” one man commented. "The virus is not as bad in NH as it is in other states. So I’m all for keeping the virus impact low in NH. Might not be a popular vote amongst most people but it is what it is.”

Another commenter voiced opposition.

“Bad decision,” the man wrote. “That’s a big hit for the area, the rooms are scarce in mid August and the area is already swarming with people. Would make much more sense to have it in June during a slower period.”

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