BikeFest ready to rumble back into town


Break out those leather pants because the 12th annual Las Vegas BikeFest is set to rumble back into town Thursday.

Hundreds of motorcycles will converge on Cashman Center, 850 Las Vegas Blvd. North, for the three-day festival, which hosts bikers from 13 different countries and 40 different states, according to BikeFest event manager Mindi Cherry.

More than three-quarters of the 40,000 bikers estimated to attend will be from outside Nevada, but despite those numbers, Cherry said the festival is making an effort to get the Las Vegas community more involved.

"We've gotten a lot of support from the community," Cherry said, adding that Mayor Carolyn Goodman, who is on the event's advisory committee, and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority have been instrumental in maintaining the festival's steady growth.

The event is also a boon for the city's own biker community, which may not have the rider-friendly reputation as exists in other states.

"It's a chance to really show off the great riding we have in Las Vegas," Cherry said. "We want to make this more about the community."

The multiple-day poker run will take bikers out to Hemenway Park in Boulder City on Friday and to the Pioneer Saloon in Goodsprings on Saturday.

The Fremont Street Experience is also getting in on the act with biker-themed cover bands performing on various stages throughout the weekend. Downtown casinos are scheduled to host poker tournaments, motorcycle giveaways and parties in conjunction with the festival, according to Fremont Street Experience marketing director Tom Bruny.

"(BikeFest) is one of the busiest and most popular events for downtown," he said. "Downtown is one of the prime gathering places for bikers."

Local businesses, such as Las Vegas Harley-Davidson, 2605 S. Eastern Ave., also will cater to the BikeFest crowds with sales, food, drinks, live music and a wet T-shirt contest.

"BikeFest brings a whole lot of business to the store," said J.P. Jaramillo, Las Vegas Harley-Davidson sales manager.

If you think bikers are not charitable individuals, think again.

Las Vegas BikeFest 2012 is partnering with the Nevada Childhood Cancer and Pediatric Brain Tumor foundations in order to raise money for the organizations.

According to Cherry, during the poker run, riders can purchase "mulligans" for $10 with all the money going to the charities.

Golden Nugget is hosting a poker tournament during the festival, and all of the money from rebuys will also go toward the charities.

To kick-start BikeFest, Corey Harrison of "Pawn Stars" is set to serve as grand marshal for the festival's Strip ride from Cashman Center to the Hard Rock Cafe, 3771 Las Vegas Blvd. South, where souvenir pins can be purchased for $10 with all proceeds benefiting the Wounded Warrior Project.

"Veterans and children are two causes close to the hearts of bikers," Cherry said.

For more information and a schedule of BikeFest events, call 866-245-3378 or visit lasvegasbikefest.com.

For a schedule of Fremont Street Experience events, visit vegasexperience.com.

For a schedule of Las Vegas Harley-Davidson events, call 431-8500 or visit lasvegasharley davidson.com.

Contact Paradise/Downtown View reporter Nolan Lister at nlister@viewnews.com or 383-0492.

 

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