Lake County prepares for Blessing of the Bikes

BALDWIN — It's that time of year again. The snow has melted and people are taking to the outdoors once more. In Lake County, that means it's time for Blessing of the Bikes.

A Lake County tradition, more than 5,000 people are expected to descend on Baldwin for the May 17 event and the weekend-long festivities including music, food and camaraderie.

"Everything is moving along," said Leeann Russell, President of the Lake County Chamber of Commerce. "There's still a lot going on and a lot still moving in order to get ready in some places, but we are doing well."

For 43 years, the Blessing of the Bikes has been a longstanding pillar of Lake County's culture and economy. Thousands of bikers from all over the country gather at the Lake County Airport to receive a blessing on the new riding season, trade, buy and sell motorcycle goods or simply come together for fun.

Craig Davis, owner of Ivan's Campground and Cabins, and a Blessing of the Bikes organizer, said event preparations are going well, thus far. He stated how crucial the weekend is, both as a Lake County resident and business owner.

"This is the most important event for any business here in Lake County," said Davis. "Whatever it is — camping, motels, gas, food — this is, financially, the first and biggest shot in the arm for this community."

More than 20 vendors have signed on to set up at the airport with the festivities, with many more businesses and organizations expected to join.

The actual blessing will take place at 1 p.m. on Sunday, May 17, on the grounds of the Baldwin Airport. Vendor set up will begin at 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 14, also at the airport grounds. The vendor booths will be open from 9 a.m. to dark on Friday, May 15, and Saturday, May 16. They will be open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Sunday, May 17.

Those looking for other events that weekend, visitors can stick to the airport for the airborne "poker run" competition on Saturday to watch numerous local pilots complete in a race stretching all over West Michigan or they can drop by AMVETS Post No. 1988 at 2 p.m. on Saturday for a performance by the Scottville Clown Band.

"All the vendors are nonprofit and the proceeds they raise go to the St. Ann's Meals Program," added Davis. "We've got a lot going for us. We're just hoping for good weather and a good turnout at this point."