Region’s bikers to rally for burn campPublished 9:49pm Monday, July 2, 2012
After 11 years, Niles Township fire lieutenant Doug Myers will be stepping down as president of Niles Burn Run Inc.
He is leaving just as the event may bring in the most riders in its history.
More turnout could result from repeal of Michigan’s helmet law, which kept Indiana participants away, according to Myers.
Other rides, such as one in Muskegon which attracts thousands of riders and another in Indiana, have been moved to different weekends and won’t be competing with the Niles event.
In addition, St. Joseph’s defunct Venetian Festival will not longer be competing for attention.
“This is the first year we’ve got a big-name entertainer coming in Saturday night,” Myers said of Duke Tumatoe. “With all that, it could be a record-breaking year.”
The event garnered $15,000 last summer, $12,000 in 2010 and $10,000 in 2009.
The 50-mile motorcycle ride through Berrien and Cass counties takes place at noon July 15, after a day of music and events in downtown Niles on July 14.
The procession leaves Niles by Main Street to M-60, Barron Lake to Pokagon.
From Cass County, bikes continue without stopping to Berrien Springs.
“It’s hot in July, and people don’t want to stop and go,” said Myers, explaining he is stepping down as president so he can spend more time with his 12-year-old son — time that has been spent, in the past, organizing the event. “When we get back, there’s free food for riders and a live band, like a condensed version of Saturday, when we have games, like the team fire truck pull.
“We’re up to 40 vendors, and they’re still coming in. Last year, we had 500 bikes and 3,000 people in town over the weekend.”
The Burn Run benefits Great Lakes Burn Camp in Portage, established in 1995 for kids ages 6 to 17.
Earlier this year, the Burn Run found itself on the receiving end of a $109,000 property donated by Marc Lancaster, whose Sauk Trail Bar and Grille in Union was damaged in a 2010 fire.
“We’re working with Porter Township to get the insurance money back to be able to bring it back up to code so we can sell it,” Myers said.
“People love it when streets close down so bikes can park. We use Riverfront Park on Sunday, when we come back. On Saturday, Main Street will be closed on the hill from Front up to Fifth Street. The Secretary of State lot will be taken up with vendors and games.
“Everybody likes going over the bypass because you can look down on M-60 and see the bikes …. The year we went on a different route, we were in Buchanan before the last bike left downtown.”