Winchester Bike Nights

WINCHESTER – Vince Zandbelt is ready to ride.

The lone motorcyclist among the collective that makes up the Winchester Downtown Revitalization Committee, Zandbelt easily recruited his comrades for its next mission – one he hopes the weather gods will be kind to.

In an effort to bring more people to Sweet Corner Park, which the committee has tended since its infancy nearly a decade ago, Thurs., June 20 will launch the first of three Winchester Bike Night events this summer.

“I saw this last year when we went down to Florida, and then saw the interest in motorcycles again with the recent Ride for Dad event. When I researched it a little bit more, I found that there is no real gathering of this type around here,” Zandbelt said. “I haven’t seen anything local for this.”

Vince Zandbelt and the rest of the Winchester Downtown Revitalization Committee will be launching the first of three Winchester Bike Night events Thurs., June 20. Uhrig Photo

When among friends who enjoy riding, the primary destination is often anywhere but here, Zanbelt noted. So, that mandate has been turned around to market Winchester as a destination for motorcyclists.

On night one, beer will be served courtesy Embrun’s Etienne Brule and music on stage in Sweet Corner will be provided by The Bordertowne Boys. Seven separate eateries have also been enlisted to serve meals for those who come to town hungry. Cup of Jo’s (and its offshoot, Scoop of Jo’s), Mr. Mozzarella, Milano Pizza, Iron Forge, Simply Baked Catering, Mary’s Restaurant and The Country Kitchen will all be serving up biker-themed fare.

Each outfit involved that is within walking distance of the park will have a sign placed out front so riders know they are on the route, while Country Kitchen owner Charles Theos will be working off the lawn outside Samantha’s Emporium.

“The goal has always been to build the park and get use out of it. There has been some use, yes, but this is a nice way to put Winchester on the map,” Owen Shortt, Winchester Travel owner and fellow member of the downtown committee, said. “This puts Winchester on the map, and says ‘come here.’”

Night two (Thurs., July 18) features Rurban Brewing and Marleen Fawcett, and the final gathering (Thurs., Aug. 15) will bring along Humble Beginnings Brewery and The Brea Lawrenson Trio.

There’s also a charitable component to the nights, with local groups and non-profits reaping the benefits of 50-50 ticket sales. Opening night it’s Community Food Share and night two it’s the House of Lazarus. The Black Walnut Prostate Awareness Group is the night three charity.

For the curious, the gatherings are open to any and all attendees, be it with a motorcycle or not.

The downtown committee, meanwhile, will be using the nights to showcase the beautification efforts that have already taken place, and those that are continuing.

Currently on the docket is a costly reframing of the Winchester District Memorial Hospital mural, which has been tagged at upwards of $8,000. There’s also the $5,000 expenditure on the banners that dot hydro poles throughout the village. The newly positioned Canada flag features were purchased by the committee, while the cow-themed hangings have been sponsored by six area dairy farms (Thurler, Tibben, Ayrporte, Johndin, Bossel and Constapel) and the Dundas Dairy Producers.

“I’m not a rider myself, but I’ve talked to a lot that say there is no place to go,” Shortt said. “So, we look to change that.”

Added Zandbelt: “We want to ensure that Winchester is a destination. You can take whatever road to get here, and then whatever road to get home.”