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Ernie Thompson of the BIMC and organizer of Bennington Bike Night stands by his motorcycle.
Ernie Thompson of the BIMC and organizer of Bennington Bike Night stands by his motorcycle.
Ernie Thompson of the BIMC and organizer of Bennington Bike Night stands by his motorcycle. (Tom Momberg)

Editor's Note: The headlining entertainment for the bike night is Vice Versa. The printed article names Bice-Versa, which is a misprint

BENNINGTON -- The Bennington International Motorcycle Club and the Better Bennington Corporation are planning the very first Bennington Bike Night for Saturday, July 12, from 5 to 9 p.m. downtown on School Street between Main Street and Pleasant Street

Riders from across the Berkshires are expected to come out and enter their bike on a ballot for free, and display it along the street. Observers will vote on the bikes to award the "best of show," similar to a car show.

"We've been putting out flyers and advertising all over southern Vermont to try to get people here," said BIMC member and event organizer Ernie Thompson. "Right now we are just praying for good weather. Unlike car people, if the rain starts, the bikes don't come out."

Live music will play for the length of the bike show, from Vice Versa, a 70s-style rock band, and D.J. Moose of Mountain Music.

Rev. Justin Lanier of Saint Peter's Episcopal Church will be offering bike blessings to motorcycle riders.

The bike night is being sponsored by Coca-Cola, Ronnie's Cycles and others. Food vendors and at least a dozen retail vendors have registered for the show. Donated parts and accessories will be given away in a 50/50 raffle.

Motorcycles of all different makes, shapes, sizes and colors will be on display, and some will be for sale. Tunnel City Riders from North Adams, Mass., will raffle off a Harley-Davidson Motorcycle.

"There are motorcycle clubs all over the place, believe it or not," Thompson said. "If you're looking, you'll find them. We are just a little motorcycle club in Bennington."

Though the event is being held by BIMC, bike clubs from Pownal, Rutland, Brattleboro and more are riding up to the show. "The main thing with bike clubs is doing rides. The last couple months for us has been planning this, but as soon as this is over, we will be going on more rides," Thompson said.

There are annual bike nights in Adams, Mass., Troy and Albany, N.Y. Thompson said he has been trying to get the club to put on something like this for some time, and headed up the project this year.

"Eddie Raetz, who owns Bennington Auto Tech, he kept saying to me that we can do this," Thompson said. "We talked about it for about three or four years. We started planning for this in October."

Thompson went to John Shannahan of BBC for help putting the event together. He helped with the logistics of the event and got the police to block off the road for a night.

"Motorcycles are huge in the area: Route 9 is a major bike route in the summer. Restaurants love bikers. They claim they are a great clientele," Shannahan said.

The Main Street businesses have been asked to stay open late that Saturday night because the organizers anticipate a large regional crowd.

"This is a vehicle town," Shannahan said. "So, a lot of people who don't ride bikes will come out just to see them.

There are 14 active members in BIMC. Thompson said he hopes to see riders signing up during the bike night. Membership dues are $10 for a year. Owners of any make and model of bike are allowed to join.

Find more information online at http://www.bimcvt.org/.

Contact Tom Momberg at tmomberg@benningtonbanner.com. Follow him on Twitter @TomMomberg.