CARIBOU, Maine — This week, on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, the streets of Caribou will be roaring with the unmistakable sound of Harley Davidsons as an estimated 500-plus riders converge on the city for the 2013 Maine Harley Owners Group rally. The theme for the event is “Caribou … Your Ticket to Ride.”
The riding fun will begin with a 350-mile police-escorted trek through Maine that will depart from Big Moose Harley Davidson in Portland at 7:30 a.m. Thursday and end at the VFW Hall in Caribou at 7:30 p.m. Several stops will be made along the way for breaks and the chance for more riders to join in on the road trip.
Opening ceremonies will be held at the VFW and the Harley riders will be treated to a spaghetti dinner followed by birthday cake to celebrate the 30th birthday of HOG and the 110th birthday of Harley-Davidson. A special challenge coin commemorating the ride and the significant birthdays will be given to those who participated in the statewide ride.
Friday’s festivities will begin at 8 a.m. at the Caribou Inn & Convention Center, where the majority of the weekend’s events will take place. Throughout the day there will be skill games at the hotel and guided and nonguided rides through northern Aroostook and into Canada. Bike shows and field events will follow in the evening at the Caribou Inn.
A comedy show by the comic trio Maine Hysterical Society will be performed for the HOG members at the Presque Isle Inn & Convention Center at 9 p.m. to wrap up that day’s events.
On Saturday, the last day of the event, a HOG Lifetime Members Breakfast will begin at 7 a.m. at the Caribou Inn where full and associate lifetime members will receive a free breakfast and commemorative patch. More skill games at the hotel and area rides will continue during the day.
Staging and departure for a sunset parade through Caribou will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the high school. Biker Bingo begins at 7:30 p.m. followed by a DJ dance from 9 p.m. to midnight at the hotel to conclude the rally.
The Aroostook chapter of HOG was started in the summer of 1993 by Phil Bosse of Caribou. Tired of riding solo, and knowing full well there were plenty of Harley owners in the area to ride with, Bosse set out on the mission to start a local chapter.
The National Harley Owners’ Group required that, in order to start a local chapter, there had to be at least four members and a dealer sponsorship. After wrangling together three other founding members, Doug Conroy, Steve Mazerolle and Doug Morrell, Bosse approached Bob Plourde of Plourde & Plourde Harley Davidson to be the chapter’s sponsor. Plourde, who had also been thinking about how to start a local chapter, agreed, and the rest is history.
What started out 20 years ago with just enough members to fill Bosse’s living room has grown into an over 100-member organization. HOG participates in numerous charitable events throughout the community and provides Harley owners the opportunity to meet and ride with other owners. The group meets every third Sunday at the Caribou Recreation Department.
The last time the Maine HOG rally was held in Caribou was 2005. The multitude of people it brings to the area bodes well for local businesses.
Kevin Simmons, owner of the Caribou and Presque Isle Inns, believes that the rallies have also increased awareness of the scenic riding opportunities The County offers.
“As the host facility in 2005, what we found was that the aftermath of the event and what it brings to The County is even bigger,” Simmons said. “We now see motorcyclists from all over coming here to do the Route 1 ride to the Four Corners in Madawaska. Snowmobiling used to be our big draw; now motorcycling is just as popular.”
Simmons also pointed out that northern Maine has been featured in national motorcycle magazines as a popular destination for riding.
Karla St. Peter, current president of the Aroostook chapter of HOG, advised that registrations have been received from riders in 15 states and two Canadian provinces. Thirty HOG chapters from across the country are represented.
“It’s going to be a huge event,” St. Peter said. “As a chapter, we extend a warm welcome to our area. Enjoy the riding in the uneventful traffic. The views are amazing!”
For more details on the HOG rally, visit the group’s website at www.mestatehogrally.com.