All roads lead to Port Dover Friday the 13th
Many wonder if attendance at Friday’s motorcycle rally in Port Dover will top the 200,000 mark. A surge in activity and motorcycle traffic in Port Dover Thursday afternoon suggests this weekend’s rally will be massive. MONTE SONNENBERG / SIMCOE REFORMER
Residents of Norfolk County aren’t the only ones bracing for a crush of humanity in Port Dover on Friday the 13th.
Word has spread across Canada that Friday’s rally in Port Dover is likely to be the largest by far in the 37-year history of the event.
“I’ve heard maybe 200,000 will be in town,” says Uriah, a biker who arrived in Port Dover from Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Thursday afternoon.
“I heard it’s going to be the biggest one ever. This is my first time in Port Dover and I’m really looking forward to it. The area is beautiful and the people are really friendly. I have a friend in Port Dover and he says they’re looking forward to the biggest event in the last 20 years.”
It was apparent from the large number of motorcycles in Norfolk and the large number of people in Port Dover Thursday that the event is building to some kind of crescendo.
The town was a beehive of activity as people everywhere were putting up tents, temporary structures and kiosks. By 3 p.m., hundreds of motorcycles were parked in the core, dozens of OPP officers were on foot patrol, and live music was pumping from the sound system at a waterfront beer garden.
Several factors have come together to suggest that Friday’s rally will be the craziest on record.
The rally is occurring in July, which is noteworthy for reliably good weather.
As well, many people book holidays in July. If they are into motorcycles, it’s a no-brainer to organize this week off around the motorcycle event in Port Dover.
There is also the fact that the next rally is 14 months away in September, 2019.
Many Friday the 13th regulars look forward to the event because it’s where they renew old acquaintances. Fourteen months is a long time to be away from friends, so this weekend’s party promises to be extra special.
“It’s mid-summer, it’s July, and it’s sunny,” says Ray Barette of Port Dover, a veteran of 15 Friday the 13th rallies.
“Weather is what it’s all about. I’ve heard 200,000. I’ve heard 300,000. It remains to be seen. But they are rolling in, aren’t they?”
The Norfolk OPP warn the public there will be delays Friday getting in and out of Port Dover. Motorcycles will have priority on Main Street, which will be off limits to civilian four-wheel vehicles.
St. George Street will be given over to one-way southbound traffic while St. Andrews Street will be given over to one-way northbound traffic.
“The OPP urge all vehicle owners and operators to be aware of `No parking’ signage and tow-away zones,” Const. Ed Sanchuk, spokesperson for the Norfolk OPP, said in a news release. “All vehicles will be removed at the owner’s expense.”
The Norfolk OPP issued a reminder this week that the airspace over Port Dover is closed for a distance of four miles from the centre of town. The ceiling on the restricted air space has been set at 2,000 feet.
The measure is in place to ensure there are no conflicts between police surveillance drones and remote-control aircraft operated by private individuals.