The rumble of tens of thousands of motorcycles as they passed through Lake of the Ozarks for the 2018 Bikefest, were unmistakable over the weekend and nowhere was it more prevalent than the Bagnell Dam Strip.

The rumble of tens of thousands of motorcycles as they passed through Lake of the Ozarks for the 2018 Bikefest, were unmistakable over the weekend and nowhere was it more prevalent than the Bagnell Dam Strip. 

Said to be the largest bike rally in the Midwest, Lake of the Ozarks is a popular destination for all types of motorcycle enthusiasts. Some described the numbers on the historic Bagnell Dam Strip as rivaling those of Main Street in Sturgis, known for attracting more bikers than any other festival in the country. And the weather this past weekend was perfect. They came in record numbers and no doubt provided a significant boost to the lake area economy. 

"The Lake of the Ozarks is the perfect destination to host Bikefest," says Tim Jacobsen, executive director of the Lake of the Ozarks Convention and Visitor Bureau. "It's been a tremendously popular event over the years. We have many motorcyclists travel here to the Lake during the year because they love the winding roads, beautiful scenery and excellent view of the Lake, and our welcoming hospitality. The popularity of Bikefest is due to the fact that it combines some of the best things at the Lake, like live music, great food at 200-plus restaurants and bars, accommodations to fit any budget, beautiful lakeside scenery, fun rides and a great, festive atmosphere.”

Jacobsen said there’s no doubt the attendance numbers were up for 2018 from an estimated 90,000 riders last year and they arrived earlier in the week this year. 

Although final numbers  numbers won’t be released until later this week, reports from various officials throughout the lake area  said the event drew it’s largest crowd ever with some estimates exceeding the 100,000 mark. 

For a crowd that large, the event went off without any major problems.

In Lake Ozark along the historic Bagnell Dam Strip, it was described as a two-wheeled hotbed of activity as bikes lined the Strip parked bikes parked 3 to 5 deep in some places Saturday and into the early morning hours on Sunday. 

Lake Ozark Police Chief Gary Lauderhill said the department had every officer on duty for the event to help with crowd control. While the crowd was large and required a lot of manpower to keep things under control, many of the bikers congregated along the Strip, patronizing the bars, restaurants and other businesses. Overall. Lauderhill said, it went well.

Lauderhill said if this year’s attendance is any indication of what can be expected next year, the department will need to do more planning to be ready for the crowds. 

The bikers made the rounds of the lake. From Eldon to Versailles, motorists found themselves sharing the roadway with motorcyclist. In Camdenton, Chamber Director Trish Creach said members noticed an increase in traffic during the Bikefest. 

“Whether they passed through to get gas, participating in the poker stops or eating at the

restaurants.  It was good for the entire area,” Creach said. 

Two popular events offered during Bikefest are the Passport Ride where participants check in at 24 different locations around the lake area to be entered in a drawing to win a motorcycle and several scenic tours ranging from 84 to 115-miles through state parks and down to Laclede and Pulaski counties. Both get bikers out and about throughout Lake of the Ozarks and into surrounding areas, spreading the economic benefit.