LAKE GEORGE - Americade, the world's largest touring motorcycle rally, begins Saturday and runs through June 8, giving riders two weekends to enjoy the event.
That's just one of the many new features for participants who come from throughout the U.S. and overseas to bike through the Adirondacks and kick back with a full lineup of world-class entertainment.
Bill and Ginny Dutcher founded Americade 30 years ago and it annually attracts crowds estimated at more than 50,000 people, who give the entire region an economic boost to start the summer tourist season.
TourExpo is the event's huge trade show with more than 200 vendors offering all kinds of motorcycle supplies, equipment and accessories. The Beach Road location opens Saturday. Beginning Tuesday, it will also be held at the Lake George Forum on Route 9, where a large Lake George Elvis Festival is taking place this weekend.
Americade's entertainment schedule begins Monday, highlighted by the Smage Brothers Riding Show, a finalist on the NBC "America's Got Talent" show; and Alonzo Bodden, grand prize winner of the reality television series "Last Comic Standing."
"If somebody shows up Monday they're going to have something to do every single day," said Nora Twyman, executive assistant.
Another new feature, performed three times daily at TourExpo, is the "Globe of Death" in which up to eight performers simultaneously ride motorcycles inside a metal mesh sphere. The show has been performed internationally.
Also for the first time, Lake George Steamboat Co. will give bikers a chance to visit pristine Paradise Bay aboard the Mohican cruise ship.
Hot air balloon rides, rodeos, zip lines and whitewater rafting are just some of the things visitors can do during an Americade vacation.
Next Thursday night there will be a Festival of Lights with a hot air balloon "moon glow," a motorcycle light parade and fire jugglers.
Of course, the main attraction is motorcycles and the chance to ride through one of the most scenic areas in the U.S.
Daily day trips are planned including to new destinations such as The Wild Center in Tupper Lake and Mount Equinox in Vermont. Another ride skirts around Great Sacandaga Lake and many bikers spend time in and around Saratoga Springs as well.
Of course, Americade's success is very weather dependent, but the forecast calls for a good start to things with temperatures in the high 80s on Saturday. The long-range outlook calls for cooler temperatures and little, if any, precipitation early next week.
"Americade at its heart is a convention," Co-Director Christian Dutcher said. "So die-hards, who planned to be here months ago, will still come regardless of weather conditions.
At Fort William Henry Hotel, more than a dozen different motorcycle manufacturers give people a chance to try out their bikes with "demo" rides, another fun attraction.
Each year, Americade comes to an end with a large Saturday morning motorcycle parade through the village of Lake George. This year's will start at 10:30 a.m. on June 8, followed by skydivers, a barbecue and motorcycle stunt show at the Wild West Ranch on Route 9.
Registration for single or multiple day visits is available at Americade headquarters at the Holiday Inn on Route 9 in Lake George.
Twyman said she'd like to take a ride during Americade, but never finds time. "I'm too busy helping people have a good time," she said, smiling.
For information and a full schedule of events go to: www.tourexpo.com.