Celebrating twenty successful years this July, Gator Harley-Davidson, in cooperation with the Leesburg Partnership, sponsored Mini Bikefest and Customer Appreciation Party. The free, two-day event took place at the family owned and operated dealership, located at 1745 US Hwy 441 and brought bikers from across the state with live music, scheduled appearances by Miss Gator Harley 2013, the Orlando Predators and their cheerleaders, and more.
In 1993, Arlene and John Malik, Sr., with children Steve, John Jr. and Janice, left the cold and snowy winters of Illinois behind to purchase what was then a tiny Harley – Davidson franchise in Leesburg. Only 6,000 sq. ft., and granted less than fifty of the legendary Harley – Davidson Motorcycles to sell per year, it did not take the Malik family long to establish a reputation for having friendly, knowledgeable staff and a true love for all things Harley Davidson. The dealership, expanded in the late 1990’s, now serves as company headquarters for both Gator Harley – Davidson and Stormy Hill Harley – Davidson, located at 2480 S. US Hwy 27 in Clermont.
Leesburg Partnership, the event coordinators of Leesburg Bikefest, collaborated with Gator Harley – Davidson to bring The Mini Bikefest to the now 70,000 sq. ft. facility. Gator has been a Presenting Sponsor of Leesburg Bikefest since its inauguration in 1997, when it was a one-day event bringing a mere 5,000 bikers to the picturesque community located between Lake Harris and Lake Griffin. Since then, like Gator Harley – Davidson, Bikefest has grown. Now a three-day annual event brings upwards of 400,000 attendees each year, Leesburg Bikefest and Gator Harley are a must stop for any motorcycle enthusiast.
Saturday, the first full day of the event, featured a Hula Hoop Derby, a Men’s Hard Body Contest and live music from Enajyram and national headliner, Bobby Friss. Friss said of the event on his website, “John Jr. has one of the largest dealerships in the country and this should be a great day with bands, vendors, and tons of bikes.”
Inside the cool, air-conditioned, 8,000 sq. ft. showroom, Gator said thanks to its customers by offering twenty percent off all licensed merchandise, which includes T-shirts, shot glasses, coozies and coffee mugs with the 20-year anniversary logo. There were also auctions and 50 – 50, benefiting Haven of Lake and Sumter Counties Safe Home.
Outside, plenty of ice cold Bud Light was on hand and served to thirsty bikers by American Legion Post 35, who manned the bar tent for the Leesburg Partnership, with a portion of all sales benefitting Folds of Honor, a foundation providing scholarships to families of America’s injured or fallen soldiers. Eleven kegs of beer sold at the event and seven food trucks were on hand, dishing out tasty treats and thirty-one vendors from around the country. The event also featured the Gator Gals Bikini Bike Wash and a waterslide.
Sunday’s events featured a pancake breakfast and service by Christian Motorcyclist’s Association with music by Souled Out, and an invitation to meet Miss Gator Harley 2013. The Orlando Predators and Cheerleaders were also on hand, and the Neon Truckers took the stage at noon. Afternoon storms brought an early end to the two-day event that both Leesburg Partnership and Gator Harley tell the Lake Gazette was a remarkable success.
John Malik, owner of Gator Harley states, “It was a tremendous event with a great turnout, and we owe it to the Leesburg Partnership. Their reach within and outside of the community helped turn this into an exceptional event and we could not have done it without them.”