Wisconsin’s “Sturgis” Was Hog Heaven

Words & Photos: John Gunnell

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Tomahawk. Wis., is the everyday home of a Harley-Davidson plant, but once a year the tiny Northwoods town turns into the Badger State’s version of Sturgis. We know that every bike at Tomahawk wasn’t a Harley (since ours wasn’t), but It was pretty much Hog Heaven for most of the folks that came to the Sept. 16-20 Fall Ride. There was even a custom metal-flaked Harley Chopper for sale inside one of the antique shops on Main Street.

The Tomahawk Fall Ride brings more than 40,000 motorcycle enthusiasts and others to the Tomahawk area each September. The event features not only great entertainment, but a giant motorcycle flea market and a parade of bikes and riders led by members of the Wisconsin State Patrol’s Motorcycle Unit that winds its way into town and down Main Street. Bikes and bikers flank the route on both sides of the street.

Naturally, the newest Harley-Davidson motorcycles and accessories are on display all weekend, both at the factory and in the park where the flea market is held. The Fall Ride raises money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA). It is actually the largest local fund raiser for MDA in all of North Central Wisconsin.

The biggest party durig Fall Ride week is at Bubba’s on Highway L at Nokomis Park, a short ride from downtown Tomahawk. This year the multi-day bash featured bands including Great White, Madman’s Diary, Black Frog, Lukyn Skywyrd, Delta Ratz, Black Knight and Never Too Late.

Every road leading to Tomahawk and every road around the town was filled with motorcycles from factory dressers to total customs. Great weekend weather made for great riding and as Midwesterners know, winter will be here soon, so the Fall Ride to Tomahawk is the last big fling of the year for many  of the bikers who make  the trip.


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