For well over 39 years, usually, on the weekend following Father’s Day, thousands of motorcyclists have converged on the North Country and Colebrook areas for the annual Blessing of the Motorcycles, normally located at the Shrine of Our Lady of Grace on Route 3 on the Colebrook/Columbia town line.
In 2016 we regret to inform you that there will not be a Blessing this year. The event has been cancelled due to no sponsors and no place to hold the event. We hope to be back up and running next year.
The event normally take place from that next Friday after Father's day, in June through that following Sunday, which usually falls on the last weekend in June. Anywhere from 4,000 to 10,000 bikers have attended in a good weather year, so even if you’re riding solo you are bound to make some new friends!
The Blessing of the Bikes is performed on Sunday by the priests of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, the order that maintains the Shrine. Following Mass, the motorcyclists line up in two aisles depending on whether they are heading north or south to home and each motorcycle and rider is blessed individually, with the blessing believed to provide divine protection for another year of safe bike riding.
While the Blessing of the Bikes is the focal point of the weekend’s events, it coincides with the annual Great North Woods Ride-In, which features dozens of activities, like helicopter rides all three days, vendors, motorcycle rodeo, and a Saturday afternoon parade through down town. On Saturday evening there is music, a Biker’s Ball, with music from the ‘50s and ‘60s to the 70's, 80's and some popular 90's. Saturday night fireworks,. During the Bike show there are prizes for Most Original, Best Customized and Best Overall bikes. Many have made the pilgrimage to the North Country of NH, to reconnect with friends made over the years.
Spectators love to watch the competitions, such as the Weenie Bite, where motorcyclists drive under a hot dog slathered in hot mustard — that is hanging from a string on a pole! — and try to take a bite, all without stopping their bikes or putting their feet down. Other rodeo events include the Slow Ride — seeing how far you can ride without putting your feet down; Romp in the Hay, a sort of motorcycle musical chairs that begins with 4 hay bales in which many softballs are hidden; and a Women's Frypan and Men's Weight Toss — no motorcycle needed for this one!
In 2013, a granite headstone donated by Nicoletti Memorials of Berlin was dedicated to William W. Donahue, known to all as Billy D, and Richard E. Brown, best known as Brownie, who have passed away. Both men had been affiliated with the Blessing of the Bikes since its inception. A hospice butterfly release has taken place for many years.
The Blessing of the Bikes is normally free, but bikers are encouraged to make a voluntary contribution, and that contribution goes to the Make A Wish foundation and Wounded Warriors Project.
You can normally ride in just for the Blessing, or you can make a weekend of it. Accommodations are available throughout the area, including inns, lodges, motels, camps, Cabins, and campsites.
With all that motorcycle riding and plenty of fun events, you’ll have worked up an appetite! There are many great restaurants to choose from in the Groveton, Stratford, Lancaster, Colebrook, Pittsburg and many other areas. There are many shopping venues, also. Come Stay, have fun, and enjoy your ride even if there is no Blessing there are still many things to see and do in the area..
We would like to thank you for your interest of the Blessing of the Bikes.