LAKE OZARK, Mo. – A month after a fatal shootout between motorcycle gangs outside a bar on the Lake of the Ozarks, more than 100,000 people are expected to attend the annual Bikefest Rally this weekend.
Locals and visitors can expect to hear the constant noise of motorcycles throughout the lake until Sunday evening. Missouri State Highway Patrol said they had additional soldiers in place to help, but the City of Lake Ozark said it wasn’t necessarily because of last month’s fatal shooting, but rather because they didn’t did not have enough officers.
“We are talking about tens of thousands of people coming to a city of 1,800 people or a lake area,” said Dan Field, public information officer for the Lake Ozark Police Force. âYou can’t expect to handle so many people with a police force of less than 14 people. “
Motorcycles have been coming to the Lake of the Ozarks for the annual Bikefest Rally for 15 years. It was started by local businesses for riders to enjoy the area.
âBikefest in this community is more or less everyone’s camaraderie,â said John Brown of Stover, Missouri. âIt brought everyone together in one place. “
Brown has been coming to the annual rally for ten years. He is now a member of Bikers For Christ, an organization that prepares a free breakfast for motorcyclists.
âIt’s just a good time,â Brown said. “We get together and share our bikes and our personalized ideas.”
Field said the event is a huge boost to the local economy.
“They [attendees] stay all over the lake, âField said. “The motels are full, the AirBNBs are full, the campsites are full, the place is filling.”
Since Wednesday, it is the roar of motorcycles around the lake.
âIt’s just going to be a constant, constant rumble,â Field said.
“By the way, I love that sound,” Nicole Beckman said with a laugh.
Beckman and her husband rode their motorcycles from Delavan, Wisconsin to the lake, an eight-hour trip. This is the first time they have participated in Bikefest.
âOn YouTube we saw a lot of different people post about being here this week and it really encouraged us to come out and do that too,â Beckman said.
âI would definitely come back. We are certainly already planning next year’s trip here.
Beckman said she heard about last month’s shooting that left one dead and injured four others outside the Casablanca Bar and Grill on the Strip, but said she felt safe with her group.
âWe haven’t met anyone who has been rude or cruel in any way,â Beckman said. “There are people from all over, Illinois, New York, Iowa, Missouri, I mean name him.”
Field said local and state law enforcement would also be on site this week to patrol.
âA lot of police departments are down in numbers, including ours,â Field said. âSafety is our concern for all of our visitors and residents, whether it’s this weekend or any weekend. “
Since the shooting last month, Field has said the only thing he’s noticed that’s different about the Strip is that some restaurants and businesses have posted signs. âAbsolutely: NO PATCHS, NO ROCKERS, NO COLORS ON SITE. “
He thinks it is the brawl between the biker gangs in July.
âBeyond that it’s pretty much business as usual,â Field said. âIt has been a great summer for us here.
Brown said he and other riders were just excited to enjoy a bike rally after others were canceled or curtailed.
âMost of them are worried about COVID, we’re not worried about it here,â Brown said.
Bikefest takes place until Sunday evening. The Strip is closed to all vehicles other than motorcycles. The Bagnell Dam is also closed due to construction work.
Find here the list of Bikefest events
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