Friday the 13th.

For many people this day is just another Friday. For some, it’s one of unfounded worry – what if something unlucky happens? But for the residents of Port Dover, Friday the 13th is a whole other story.

My brother lives in Port Dover so I have visited many times. For the most part, it’s a quiet little town, waking up in the summer as a beach resort. It’s known for its beautiful sandy beach and for the Erie Beach Hotel which serves up the best fried perch anywhere, accompanied by a side of their famous celery bread.

But on Friday the 13th something else happens: all the motorcycle owners from miles around descend on the town for a huge party. The party began back in 1981 when about 25 guys met up there. It now draws a much larger following. Friday the 13th happens on a varying number of days in any calendar year. For example, next year there are 2 – one in January which probably will not be well-attended due to the weather, and another in October which is likely to be busy. But this year, after a hiatus of 2 years due to the pandemic, there is only one Friday the 13th, the one we had last week. No wonder over 100,000 bikers and families showed up.

Bikes line the streets of Port Dover

Residents of the town know the drill. The streets will be closed to cars and there will be crowds, loud music, and the noise of revving motorcycle engines. There will be injuries too – this year at least one biker was killed in a vehicle accident. But there is generally a civilized atmosphere. According to the residents, the bikers are very polite; apologizing for stepping on toes or bumping into people, something really hard to avoid in these massive crowds.

One year Peter and I attended this event. We had to drive there the day before and stay overnight. We wandered downtown the next morning, jostling and pushing our way forward. We visited the vendors and stared at all the bike merchandise; every bell and whistle that a biker would dream of. We gawked at the bikes, some of them worth thousands of dollars. Our jaws dropped as we took in the outfits: garish for sure and often erotic – chaps with no rear end. How comfortable would that be on a hot bike seat?

On our way back to my brother’s house, he suggested that we take a short-cut – through the Hell’s Angels campground! Peter and I pictured ourselves tied up in a tent, interrogated, possibly tortured, and then thrown in Lake Erie with weights tied around our ankles. Agghhh! But my brother assured us he had made this trek before and it was safe. And it was. The bikers even engaged in some small talk with us: “Nice day, eh?” and so on. We survived!

How do the citizens of Dover feel about this regular invasion of their town? The businesses are very happy. The service clubs, like the Kinsmen and the Lions, host food trucks and campgrounds. The hotels, bars and restaurants are bustling. One store, that sells Friday the 13th kitsch all year round, has line-ups around the block. And the beer store? Well you can guess the answer to that!

Bikers’ favourite parking lot

So next time you are wondering how to avoid bad luck on a Friday the 13th, try your luck in Port Dover. You don’t need a Harley; even a scooter will work.


PS Thank you to my sister-in-law Kathy for the great photos.

High-end bikes

6 thoughts on “Friday the 13th.

  1. LOL !! Excellent reportage. Brave photos!
    I could envy that sort of reckless abandon and camaraderie were it not for the risks of serious hurt. And the noise and the pollution and the booze…etc. One thing we are unlikely ever to see is an electric Harley.


  2. Great post. I had no idea about this event. I’m glad to hear that it wasn’t another “freedom” convoy. I’m happy to just enjoy your photos as I hate crowds.


  3. Hi Sue,
    Enjoyed reading the history of the Friday 13th biker’s gathering. Our niece and family live across the street from the beer store!


  4. I remember Peter had a bike that he drove me around the block …does he still ride ..or would he still ride ?


    1. Stopped riding after high school, had too many falls and broken bones. It served the purpose of getting to work at your uncle and going to school.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s