By ADAM DRAPCHO, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — An effort to bring a several-days-long music festival to Laconia Motorcycle Week might have fizzled last year, but organizers weren't deterred. Instead, they immediately began planning for the 2016 running of the rally, and yesterday held a press conference to announce details for LaconiaFest, a nine-day festival of music and entertainment.
LaconiaFest will take place June 11-19 on the Weirs Drive. More than 100 rock and country bands are expected to perform on two outdoor stages. Ted Nugent was among the headlining acts announced at the press conference, though organizers promised more headliners would be announced in weeks to come.
The musical acts will be complemented by a festival village with vendors, food and beer, and entertainment. Doors to the village will open at noon on each day and close at 1 p.m. Music will cease at midnight. The venue is licensed to host 33,000 people at a given time, though organizers said they expect the daily crowds will fluctuate from 5,000 during weekdays to near capacity during headliner concerts.
Tickets go on sale this weekend, and can be purchased at Laconiafest.com or Ticketgalaxy.com.
"About a year and a half ago, we set out to make a music venue to complement Laconia Motorcycle Week," said Laurie DiGiovanni, LaconiaFest producer. She promised the 12-acre Weirs Drive In property would feature "action, exhilaration, daytime and night-time mind-blowing fun."
Todd Ahrend, director of attractions for LaconiaFest, said the festival village would feature motorcycle art, custom motorcycle builders, paintball war games, Keith Sayer's Freestyle Motocross high-flying stunt show, and a 500-foot zip line. One of the custom motorcycles built at the festival will be auctioned off to benefit Veteran Outdoors, a charity that promotes outdoor activities' therapeutic effects for service members.
Ahrend said organizers are in talks with remote parking lots, which he hopes to organize shuttles to bring festival goers to and from the front gate. Festival organizers are also speaking with Winnipesaukee Railroad to offer attendees a way to get to the festival.
"It's been a long ride, we had a lot of high hopes last year," said Charlie St. Clair, executive director of Laconia Motorcycle Week, adding that he appreciates the time and effort that organizers, including Mike Trainor, expended in order to make the festival happen. "We look forward to a long partnership with everybody."
"I think this has been a strong team effort, certainly led by Mike Trainor, with Charlie's help," added Mayor Ed Engler. He also cited the work of city officials, such as Fire Chief Ken Erickson and Police Chief Chris Adams. The festival has achieved all necessary licensing and approvals, he said.
"I think everyone in the city of Laconia welcomes this with open arms and (appreciates) what it means to the success of Motorcycle Week and the future of Motorcycle Week," Engler said.
Engler and St. Clair agreed that LaconiaFest will bring a new element to the Weirs for Motorcycle Week.
"We've got music venues," he said, listing the various taverns in and around the Weirs, but none large enough can draw acts with such notoriety. "They're bringing in big acts. Ted Nugent is a big name. He'll draw some people that may not have come before," he said.
Engler, repeating an observation that St. Clair has made about other motorcycle rallies around the country, noted that well-known marquee acts will draw a broad audience.
"That's something that has been missing, in my opinion, in previous years, attracting people who are not necessarily motorcyclists," Engler said.
Referring to the annual rally in Sturgis, St. Clair said, "That's something that happens in South Dakota, people come from far away just for the concert."
In addition to Nugent, other acts announced yesterday included: Buckcherry, Sevendust, Fuel, Dope, Saving Abel, Adelitas Way, Attica 7, Escape the Fate, Biters, Dead by Wednesday, Next to None, Apollo Under Fire, Leaving Eden, Laura Comfort, and Milow the Girl.
Kyle Osolin and Aatish Patel from Ticket Galaxy and Todd Anrend and Laurie DiGiovanni from LaconiaFest announce LaconiaFest 2016 during a press conference held at the Naswa Resort on Wednesday morning. (Karen Bobotas/for the Laconia Daily Sun)
Laconiafest.com lists Ted Nugent and a number of other acts to perform. (Screenshot)