- Associated Press - Monday, May 25, 2015

LAKE GEORGE, N.Y. (AP) - The organizer of a massive, weeklong motorcycle rally in upstate New York says the fatal shootout between rival biker gangs in Texas won’t affect this year’s event.

Christian Dutcher is director of the Americade rally that annually draws 50,000 to 60,000 motorcyclists to Lake George on the southeastern fringe of the Adirondack Mountains. The events in Waco are on his mind as he gears up for next month’s rally, and he understands that the non-riding public often has a fixed image of all motorcyclists.

“Helmets and handlebars,” he said. “We do look alike.”

But that’s where the resemblance ends. The vibe at this 33-year-old rally founded by Dutcher’s father, Bill Dutcher, is mellower than at most others.

“I think the image problem, the confusion, can take place by people who are not motorcyclists,” Christian Dutcher said. “But if you’ve been motorcycling, you clearly understand the difference between hardcore motorcycle gangs and the group that we attract.”

The Waco shootout on May 17 left nine bikers dead and about 170 more in custody. Five motorcycle gangs were present, including the Cossacks and Bandidos.

Dutcher isn’t doing anything differently regarding security because of Waco. Americade runs from June 1 to June 6 this year.

“Events can very easily spiral downward and attract a tougher crowd, so we work very hard to counteract that by doing a lot of positive things,” he said. “We put it right out there in everybody’s faces.”

On the rally’s website, riders are told: “Americade is a gathering of friendly, fun-loving folks, for whom motorcycling is a social hobby, but not some form of rebellion. It’s NOT the place for shows of speed, hostile attitudes, or illegally loud bikes.”

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