Over 100,000 Harley-Davidson enthusiasts are converging on Milwaukee, WI for the 110th anniversary celebration for the iconic American motorcycle manufacturer that begins on Thursday.
Revelers will be treated to over 60 musical acts including ZZ Top, Kid Rock, and Aerosmith. The company is offering special factory tours and the local Harley-Davidson Museum will offer special displays of famous bikes including “Serial Number One” the oldest bike in existence. The museum will also be the center of a custom bike show with over 160 bikes in 11 categories will be on display.
Riders can even get the ultimate sign of the biker lifestyle with a free 110th anniversary tattoo.
Mark-Hans Richer, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Harley-Davidson told a local NBC station that “This is actually the end of our anniversary year. It’s a return to the mecca of motorcycling in Milwaukee — which is hard to say three times fast but you get the idea.”
The company was founded in 1903 by a pair of young gearheads named William Harley and Arthur Davidson. Harley was just 21 and Davidson was only 20 when they hung a shingle outside a 10 by 15 wooden shed in the Davidson backyard and offered their first motorcycle for sale.
By 1920, Harley-Davidson was the largest motorcycle manufacturing company in the world selling nearly 30,000 bikes a year. Sales plunged to just under 4,000 in 1933. However, Harley-Davidson was one of just two American motorcycle manufacturers to survive the Great Depression.
company was sold to American Machine and Foundry (AMF) in 1969 and nearly went bankrupt in the 1980’s. A 45% tariff on heavy motorcycles along with a restructuring to focus on classic styles and heavily customizable designs led to a resurgence in the company’s fortunes. Today, Harley-Davidson generates over $5 billion in revenue and employs 6,000 people.
The anniversary festival continues through Sunday.