The Roar on the Shore® bike rally was created in 2007 for a greater purpose — to serve as a major fundraising event in the Erie, Pennsylvania region. Now, in its ninth year in 2015, Roar® has quickly become one of the fastest-growing free bike rallies in the United States. The Business Magazine recently asked Joe Sinnott, Erie mayor and Roar on the Shore Board member, about the economic benefits of the rally and the City of Erie’s unwavering support of it.

Each July, bikers and bike enthusiasts descend on downtown Erie to enjoy three days of rides, bands, bike contests and more – with an estimated economic impact of more than $20 million. Why do you believe that this rally is such a great event for the City of Erie to support?
Roar on the Shore® has a monumental impact on the Erie region and especially our downtown. Each year, over 100,000 people come to our community to enjoy this event. This results in an extensive economic impact throughout Erie County and is an excellent opportunity to welcome participants from all over the country to experience our wonderful city. We find that once people visit the Erie region and see all that we have to offer, they come back again with their family and friends to enjoy our many other attractions. Roar® is a great way to showcase our city and grow our tourist economy. We are very fortunate that the community embraces this event and helps us to put our best foot forward for our many guests.

Please explain how the City assists with the rally.
The City of Erie has been a partner in implementing the Manufacturer & Business Association’s (MBA) vision for Roar on the Shore® since its inception. Because the rally is centrally focused in Erie’s downtown, primarily in the Perry Square area, the City assists in the planning and executing of the logistics of the rally as well as traffic and public safety operations. Although the rally is put on and operated by MBA personnel, the City tries to help in any way we can to make sure the event runs smoothly and successfully each year.

You are known as Erie’s “biker mayor” and lead Thunder on the Isle: The Mayor’s Ride during the rally each year. 2015 is the first time that this ride will be dedicated to military and first responders. What does it mean to you to be a part of this special event?
I am very pleased and proud of the turnout we’ve had over the years and the money we’ve been able to raise to support the charities. This year will be extra special because we are dedicating the ride to our military and first responder personnel. At various times throughout the existence of Roar on the Shore®, we have honored first responders either through the charity or other special events. It is a pleasure to now dedicate The Mayor’s Ride to these brave men and women who help to define our community. I look forward to having record-breaking participation in this year’s ride to show our armed forces and public safety personnel that we, as a community, appreciate them and support them in all that they do.

Each year, the rally gets bigger and we see more and more out-of-towners return to Roar® as part of their summer vacations. What do you think of this response?
Every year, I have the opportunity to see people that I’ve met in previous years who travel, some times great distances, to attend Roar on the Shore® as one of their annual summer destinations. That says volumes for the quality of the event that the MBA has developed. There are many events throughout the country that cater to motorcycle enthusiasts, but Roar on the Shore® has become a favorite amongst those who have experienced the many rides, bands and other activities the Roar® offers throughout the week. Most say that it is the first-class quality of the rally that makes it a top priority when determining which events they will attend.

What are your hopes for the rally in the future?
I am hopeful that the Roar® will continue to grow as it has each and every year since its inception. It is a great event for this region and has been embraced by the community. Each year, we see a whole host of new participants as well as the tens of thousands who return each and every summer. Roar® has become a great economic driver for our tourism trade, and we hope it will continue to grow and expand for the benefit of the entire region.