MILLINOCKET, Maine — Linda Billings said she got a sampling of how big the 2009 Maine State Harley Owners’ Group rally will be while riding Interstate 95 from her hometown, Jefferson, south of Augusta, on Wednesday.
Billings lunched at Dysart’s in Hermon and mentioned to the restaurant cashier that she had seen a lot of motorcycles around. The cashier responded, “Oh, are you going up to that bike thing in Millinocket?”
“I actually felt kind of a thrill when I came up,” Billings said Wednesday. “When I came off the highway, I saw the signs that said, ‘Welcome HOGs.’ That’s a warm fuzzy for everybody.”
Starting today and ending Saturday, the 2009 Maine State H.O.G. Rally will be held at Millinocket Regional Airport and River Drivers’ Restaurant at the New England Outdoors Center.
The event’s pre-registration, 579 Harley-Davidson motorcycle riders, vastly outstrips other rallies held around the Northeast, said Billings, rally coordinator for Maine State Rally Inc., the organization assembling the event.
The rally will be the first large-scale event to allow motorcycles on the privately owned Golden Road, Maine’s primary conduit for loggers into the continent’s largest tract of contiguous forests. A parade through town and several poker runs through the Katahdin region are planned.
“On the whole, I think it will be looking good. Lots of people are riding up here for it and a lot of people are anticipating our coming,” she said.
Other riders will register during the event. If the weather is good, at least 800 people are expected to attend. According to AccuWeather.com, partly sunny skies this morning gradually will become cloudy, with rain falling by 10 p.m. Clouds, sunshine and intermittent showers are expected Friday, with more sun on Saturday.
“If the weather is not any worse than it is today, then this is great,” Billings said Wednesday.
The Town Council voted unanimously to support the rally, issuing a proclamation of welcome to rally participants last week. The resolve said the town was “excited and honored” to host a HOG rally for the first time, and praised the many residents and businesspeople who have “worked hard over the past year to make this event” enjoyable and hospitable to HOG riders.
The parade through town from the airport will start at 4 p.m. Friday, Town Manager Eugene Conlogue said. It will run from Medway Road onto Route 157, over Central Street to Penobscot Avenue, then to Poplar Street to the Golden Road.
It will return after the Golden Road ride via the Lake Road to Katahdin Avenue, Central Street and to Medway Road. Conlogue encouraged residents to turn out for the event. Police will be monitoring traffic and blocking streets accordingly.
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2009 State HOG rally schedule of events
Thursday, July 16
9-11:30 a.m.: Early registration, New England Outdoors Center.
9 a.m.-4 p.m.: “Kick it Off” Poker Run, starting from any Maine Harley-Davidson dealership and ending at NEOC.
11 a.m.-11 p.m.: Food vendors, NEOC.
1-3 p.m.: “Run to the Fun” parade from Bangor to Millinocket.
3:30-6 p.m.: Registration, poker run, self-guided tours, skills games and shuttle service, all at NEOC.
4 p.m.-midnight: shuttle service continues, NEOC.
7:30-8 p.m.: Opening ceremonies, NEOC.
8-10 p.m.: Bonfire with storyteller Clyde Folsom, NEOC.
Friday, July 17
8 a.m.-11 p.m.: Registration, vendors, poker pun, self-guided tours, skills games and shuttle service, all at NEOC.
3-4 p.m.: Staging for Golden Road ride, Millinocket Regional Airport.
3:45-4 p.m.: Blessing of the bikes, MRA.
4-6:30 p.m.: Golden Road ride, Millinocket town parade, starting at MRA.
4 p.m.-midnight: Shuttle service, NEOC.
6:30-7:30 p.m.: Prepaid barbecue dinner buffet, bike show, NEOC.
8-10:30 p.m.: “Katahdin Lava Luau” party with disc jockey, biker bingo, NEOC.
Saturday, July 18
8 a.m.-noon: Registration, NEOC.
8 a.m.-3 p.m.: Poker run, self-guided tours and shuttle service, all at NEOC.
8 a.m.-11 p.m.: Food vendors, MRA.
9:30-11:30 a.m.: Safety seminar, NEOC.
3-5:30 p.m.: Field events, MRA.
7:45-8:15 p.m.: Closing ceremonies and awards, MRA.
8:30-10:30 p.m.: Bonfire and entertainment, NEOC.