NEW PORT RICHEY — Get ready to hear the rumble as bikers from near and far roll into town for the annual West Pasco Chamber of Commerce Cotee River Bike Fest, which takes place Friday through Sunday.
The main event will be in the historic downtown area and at Sims Park, with a second venue at Harley-Davidson of New Port Richey.
Bike Fest is expected to draw some 25,000 to 35,000 motorcycle enthusiasts for three days of live music, contests, food and drink, and plenty of iron rides.
The welcome mat is out in a big way, said event chairman Mike Chissell, adding that the city is temporarily reopening parts of Sims Park, which is undergoing renovations, for this event.
"We want New Port Richey to be known as America's most friendly biker city," Chissell said. "This is literally the biggest and best bike show we've ever had."
Tony Cianci, event coordinator and the owner/publisher of Full Throttle Magazine, is equally enthusiastic.
"It's the beginnings of another Leesburg Bike Fest," which draws upward of 250,000 bikers every year, Cianci said.
Fourteen bands will perform on two stages throughout the weekend, including a couple of tribute bands as well as familiar favorites such as the Bearded Brothers, the Undercover Betty Band, Cowboy Mafia and the Black Honkeys.
The event will also feature 75 vendors selling food and various other items. A Saturday night pub crawl, held in the downtown "wet zone," comes with the chance to win a wheel barrow full of liquor by visiting participating bars and restaurants. There also will be an opportunity to hear live music in an air-conditioned venue, including blues, jazz and soul singer/songwriter Julie Black, who will perform Friday evening at Dulcet Restaurant and Lounge
Itching for a ride to call your own, or just like to look? A ticket for the Harley giveaway is just $10. The Full Throttle and Fran Haasch Custom Bike Unveil will be on the main stage at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Contests include Dukes and Dudes (7 p.m. Friday), bikinis (7 p.m. Saturday) and a number of decked-out rides entered in the Full Throttle Bike Show, with awards to be given out Saturday and Sunday on the main stage.
Visitors 21 and older are welcome to take a demo ride on a 2016 Harley-Davidson — with proper riding/safety gear and a valid motorcycle license. Or saddle up your own bike and meet at Harley-Davidson of New Port Richey with other riders for the Fire and Iron Poker Run, which will benefit the Children's Burn Camp, from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday.
Contact Michele Miller at email@example.com or at (727) 869-6251. Follow @MicheleMiller52.