LA CROSSE, WI (July 3, 2008) S&S® Cycle, a 50 year-old American v-twin performance company ( www.sscycle.com ), enjoyed an incredibly successful 50th Anniversary Celebration from June 27-29, 2008. The city of La Crosse played host to approximately 30,000 visitors as riders came in from across the country and around the world to commemorate the occasion.
S&S started out with one goal in mind, the vision of founder George Smith—to make all motorcycles go faster. With that mantra in mind the second and third generations of Smith family have steered the company as the leader in high-performance v-twin components and engines. A strong dealer and distributor network have helped S&S continue to grow and in turn, gave S&S reason to expand in services offered.
The anniversary weekend was planned well over a year ago. S&S president, Brett Smith, asked world-class builders to use 50 limited production anniversary engines to build 50 unique custom bikes and compete for $50,000 in S&S product credit. A rigorous week was spent going over lists of potential builders to finally narrow the hundreds and hundreds down to just 50.
“The idea for this event was to do something very unique, bigger, and more global than anything we’d ever done before. Typically, we work with 5 builders each year, but during our 50th, it made sense to expand to 50 builders—which we did.” Smith went on to say, “What made the whole 50th Anniversary Celebration so sensational and successful was the support of the builders, the employee volunteers, family and friend volunteers, and the entire community backing the project.” Smith finished by saying, “Not only was it a success for S&S because of all that support, the entire community benefited, and several local charities including the Oktoberfest Committee, Boys & Girls Club, Children’s Museum, and Riverfront, Inc. were the beneficiaries of over $100,000 in combined charitable fund raising.”
Working closely with the city of La Crosse, S&S staff explained the plan and gained support from the mayor’s office on down. The entire community rallied around the idea of a huge party in La Crosse. From offering motorcycle only parking throughout the majority of the downtown area to closing off 3rd Street to motorcycle traffic only at night, riders would be made very welcome.
Finding a place to accommodate thousands and thousands of riders, display 50 motorcycles and set up an area for vendors to display in a small city like La Crosse could have been difficult. However, centrally located downtown is a huge festival area known as the Oktoberfest grounds. It offered S&S the place to do it all and accommodate the expected crowds.
“All I can say is Wow! The credit for pulling off this event goes to my son Brett and the employees at S&S Cycle”, said George Smith second generation family member and Chairman of the Board. “Howard Kelly did a masterful job of organizing and coordinating a complicated schedule involving the who’s who of the v-twin motorcycle custom bike builders and aftermarket industry. My thanks to the Village of Viola and the Coulee Region city planners and businesses that worked closely with S&S to make this celebration an overwhelming success. For me, it was a heart-warming and humbling experience to see so many visitors show their appreciation for S&S’s contribution to the motorcycle sport over the last 50 years. I’ll forever be grateful I was blessed with the opportunity to be a part of such a fun and exciting business.”
As the week prior to the event unfolded, bikes began shipping in from around the country and world. The streets of La Crosse started seeing increased motorcycle traffic and on Friday June 27th, the bikes were unveiled to a huge crowd, as many of the 50 were fired up to the spectator’s delight. The noise was deafening, but the excitement of firing the bikes up for the crowd kept S&S 50th Anniversary engines running for almost five minutes as the builders announced their presence through their pipes. Another surprise came about during the unveiling when Ron Hutchinson of Harley-Davidson Motorcycles presented S&S Chairman George B Smith and president Brett Smith with a plaque commemorating the 50th Anniversary of S&S.
Ken Smith, second generation Smith family member said, “When I came to work with my mother and father at S&S in 1971 I never dreamed that someday I would witness the company’s 50th anniversary. I was overwhelmed by the support of the builders and riders of the motorcycle community, the media and the general public who came to La Crosse from all over to help the Smith Family celebrate the event. I had the chance to remember and revisit many fond memories that I hadn’t thought of for a long time. It was a great tribute to my parents, the founders of S&S, and all of the employees who helped build the company. Everyone should be proud of their accomplishments. I know I am.”
The weekend began to heat up quickly with excitement and warm temperatures when a torrential Wisconsin downpour began—creating a flood at the far end of the festival grounds and out into the streets. But, like weather in the Midwest, an hour later it was gone and the waters receded and the crowd was back to packing the festival grounds quickly. Undaunted by weather some 10,000 people visited the event Friday.
Total attendance through the whole three days exceeded 28,000 paid (spectators 12 and under were admitted free) on the festival grounds, however, it is estimated there were a few thousand other guests that never entered the fest grounds. Saturday at the La Crosse Speedway, The Horse magazine and S&S teamed up to present a ride-in chopper show for about 200 bikes with a huge group of spectators. Additionally, La Crosse Harley-Davidson led a ride to J&P cycles to participate in their anniversary party. Local radio station 95.7 The Rock also hosted a ride for well over 600 bikes to get out and see the scenery on the river on both the Wisconsin and Minnesota side.
La Crosse Mayor, Mark Johnsud said, “Hats off to S&S Cycle for a great 50th anniversary! It provided an opportunity for us to not only showcase S&S Cycle, a premier manufacturer of top quality motors and parts, but also the La Crosse community. The local residents enjoyed seeing the bikes as much as the visitors enjoyed showing them off. It was a great crowd that we would welcome back anytime.”
During the event S&S teamed up with three local charities—Riverfront, Boy’s and Girl’s Club and the Children’s Museum—to sell S&S merchandise. They sold over $56,000 worth and all of the profits realized from those sales will be divided evenly among them. Additionally, The Oktoberfest board of Directors decided to add $26,500 to the pool to be divided among the three—as well as the monies they paid into 12 volunteer groups working the event to raise money for their charities.
Now, onto the most important part of the weekend, the winners of the show!
Bike Build Off Result :
Hot-Dock Custom Cycles
Dougz Custom Paint & Fabrication