Party Harley


At the end of August, Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Co. will kick off its 105th anniversary celebration in Milwaukee, with a five-day party the likes of which the city only sees every five years.

Harley’s anniversary gatherings are a celebration of the company’s history and heritage, and a way for it to show off Milwaukee, the company’s hometown. The company’s 100th anniversary celebration drew an estimated 150,000 to 200,000 visitors to Milwaukee, and the company and Visit Milwaukee, formerly the Greater Milwaukee Convention and Visitors Bureau, expect more than 100,000 visitors this year.

“The 100th was really special – it was a centennial and you don’t get many opportunities to have one of those,” said Joanne Bischmann, vice president of licensing and special events with Harley-Davidson. “It was our opportunity to take the Harley-Davidson brand out to the world.”

About 45,000 hotel rooms are reserved in the metro area during the celebration, according to Visit Milwaukee’s latest numbers.

“We estimate about 1.5 people per room,” said Doug Neilson, president and CEO of the organization. “And it could be more in this case.”

Bob Klein, director of corporate communications with Harley-Davidson, said the company has had more than 100,000 guests for most of its anniversary celebrations. And Kelli Trumble, secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Tourism, said she believes the festival will attract at least 100,000 people this year.

“Look at the buzz this generates all across the world, where people are coming to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to celebrate 105 years of Harley-Davidson,” she said. “The economic impact to the state is way beyond just the weekend.”

Revenues from the hotel reservations are estimated at about $25 million. Neilson said. However, Visit Milwaukee has no further analysis of the festival’s economic impact, nor did it have any analysis of its 100th anniversary.

Harley-Davidson has paid obvious attention to making music the centerpiece of its 105th anniversary, and Bischmann said the company had spent the past five years ironing out the right musical lineup.

“We started thinking right after the 100th (anniversary) and we’ve had the opportunity to talk to a lot of bands along the way,” Bischmann said. “This was a good year to secure talent and we have a lot of talent that is really excited about our brand as well. We have some new partners and some new friends and we’ve been able to get a great lineup for the 105th.”

The event’s headliners – Foo Fighters and Bruce Springsteen and the E. Street Band – will play at the Roadhouse at the Lakefront, on Aug. 28 and 29, respectively, at the Roadhouse at the Lakefront in Veteran’s Park at the lakefront.

Harley will also open up Milwaukee’s Summerfest Grounds on Aug. 29 and 30, which will feature four stages of live music, antique and custom motorcycles, interactive exhibits and more.

Bands performing on the Summerfest grounds include ZZ Top, Foghat, The Black Crowes, Los Lonely Boys, Peter Frampton, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, Cameo, Dierks Bentley, Daughtry and many more.

The 105th anniversary celebration also includes a series of free concerts, held in a different area of the city, from Aug. 27 through Aug. 31. There will be different performers every night.

“Harley-Davidson and music go hand in hand,” Bischmann said. “We like to party to music and we like to listen to music on the highway. We’ve got something for just about everyone – no matter where you are in your life you can enjoy some of the talent that we have.”

The 105th anniversary will also include Club H.O.G. 25, a 25th anniversary celebration for the Harley Owner’s Group, held at Miller Park on Aug. 28. Kid Rock will be the headlining performer at the event, which will also include several other bands and comedians.

Harley’s 105th anniversary celebration also includes several new Harley-sponsored attractions. Its Main Street at the Lakefront, also held inside Veteran’s Park, will be a free family-friendly destination with motorcycle displays, music, children’s activities, dealer sales areas, new 2009 Harley-Davidson motorcycles and more.

“We’ve invited a lot of the other companies with mobile marketing stations like you see at NASCAR events,” Bischmann said. “We’ll also have an area where all Wisconsin products are sold.”

Harley has also partnered with Discovery World, which will host a temporary exhibit called “Harley-Davidson Designing Customs.” The exhibit will highlight Harley’s design process from concept through production. Admission to the exhibit is included with a ticket to the 105th celebration.

Harley will also be showcasing its newly unveiled museum, located just east of the Menomonee Valley in Milwaukee, during the celebration. The museum will help the company celebrate Harley-Davidson’s growth since its 100th anniversary, Bischmann said.

“We’ve grown as a company, we’ve grown with our customers and we’ve grown with venues here in Milwaukee as well,” she said. “We’ve grown a lot – we have more motorcycles since the 100th, and we’re bigger in Milwaukee. We have the museum here, and we’ll be using that as a venue as well.”

Harley-Davidson’s commitment to its hometown is unique in Milwaukee, said Roger Stafford, chief operating officer for Key Milwaukee Magazine Inc., a monthly visitor’s guide.

“It (Harley-Davidson) really is a company that has decided that its home base is really important to them,” Stafford said. “There are a lot of really great companies in Milwaukee, but no one like Harley that says, ‘We’re from Milwaukee.’ These anniversary parties are expensive, but bringing people here is a great showcase for the city.”


105th Anniversary Celebration

Street Parties

Harley-Davidson will hold five free street parties with live music during its 105th anniversary celebration. They are:
Aug. 27 – Highland Avenue between 35th and 38th streets
  The Crave, Foghat, Amanda Overmeyer
Aug. 28 – Milwaukee Street between Mason and Wisconsin Avenue
  Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Tea Leaf Green
Aug. 29 – East North Avenue between Prospect and Oakland
  Blind Melon, The Crave, Alana Grace
Aug. 30 – Old World Third Street between Juneau Avenue and State Street
  Big Head Todd & The Monsters, Tea Leaf Green
Aug. 31 –
Water Street between Knapp Street and Highland Avenue
   Blue Oyster Cult

Summerfest Grounds

Harley’s 105th celebration will include two days of action at the Summerfest grounds, with four stages of live music.
Aug. 29
• Amanda Overmeyer             • Alana Grace   
• Tea Leaf Green                    • Los Lonely Boys
• Black Rebel Motorcycle Club  • Gary Allan   
• War                                     • Big Head Todd & The Monsters
• ZZ Top                                • Foghat
• The Black Crowes
Aug. 30
• Amanda Overmeyer    •    Alana Grace
• Rev Theory    •    Peter Frampton
• Joan Jett & The Blackhearts    •    Blind Melon
• Puddle of Mudd    •    Cameo
• Dierks Bentley    •    Daughtry
• Blue Oyster Cult

Roadhouse at the Lakefront (inside Veteran’s Park)
Aug. 29
  Foo Fighters with Three Days Grace
Aug. 30
   Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band

Club H.O.G. 25th Anniversary Celebration (at Miller Park grounds)

Aug. 28
  Performances by Kid Rock, Lewis Black, John Bowman, Greg Giraldo, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts and others.



Sign up for BizTimes Daily Alerts

Stay up-to-date on the people, companies and issues that impact business in Milwaukee and Southeast Wisconsin

No posts to display