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Rev your engines — Cotee River Bike Fest is back

NEW PORT RICHEY — After a one-year hiatus, the Cotee River Bike Fest will be rocking and rolling once again, kicking off Oct. 10 with three days of motorcycles, music and a whole lot more.

"I think we have a stellar event planned. We have lots of things for everybody this year," said Steve Schurdell, bike fest committee chair and managing partner of the Hits 106 radio station in New Port Richey.

It seems more than a few locals were missing the annual festival that, in the past, drew visitors from far and wide and had a positive economic impact on local businesses.

"We're very excited that it's back — it was something that community missed," said Chip Wichmanowski, president of the West Pasco Chamber of Commerce.

Schurdell was a driving force in getting the bike fest back on track, along with old and new committee members and partner sponsors such as the Fran Haasch Law Group, Team Farrell Roofing and Harley-Davidson of Tampa, Brandon and New Port Richey.

This year's event, to be held in Sims Park and in the historic downtown, features a schedule meant to draw in the motorcycle enthusiast and music lover, as well as the casual observer just looking for something fun to do.

Those up for a thrill can take in a return performance by award-winning stunt rider Jesse Toler, who holds two official Guinness world records for longest stoppie on a motorcycle at 1,320.3 feet and the fastest stoppie at 150 mph. Jerry "Motorman" Palladino, a former Pasco County sheriff's motorcycle deputy and producer of the Ride Like a Pro video series, will also be on hand to demonstrate riding skills.

Up for doing some riding of your own? Those 21 or older who have a valid motorcycle license are welcome to check out the Harley-Davidson Factory Demo Truck that will be packed with 2015 Harleys ready to test ride. Prefer to ride with the pack? Saddle up your own bike and help raise funds for the Children's Burn Foundation of Florida by signing up for the Fire & Iron motorcycle club station 43 annual poker run (11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 11 starting at Harley-Davidson in New Port Richey). Have no riding experience but want to see what all the fuss is about? Go ahead and take a whirl at firing a bike up and hearing the Harley roar at the Jump Start event on the Sims Park stage.

There will also be a fine slate of bands appearing on two stages — by the river in Sims Park and downtown. Other entertainment includes a bikini contest, a Daisy Dukes contest and a wing-eating contest.

"The entertainment is geared toward the biker community, but we're inviting people who don't ride to still come downtown and 'party like a biker,' " Schurdell said.

There will be road closures from Sims Park through the downtown district, so those who stroll the event with beverages in hand.

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