Extra law enforcement in place for annual Lake of the Ozark’s Bikefest

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LAKE OZARK, Mo. — One month after a deadly shooting between motorcycle gangs outside a bar at the Lake of the Ozarks, more than 100,000 people are expected to attend the annual Bikefest Rally this weekend. 

Local and visitors can expect to hear the constant sound of motorcycles throughout the Lake until Sunday evening. Missouri State Highway Patrol said they have extra troopers in place to help, but the City of Lake Ozark said it’s not necessarily because of last month’s fatal shooting, instead, it’s because they don’t have enough officers. 

“We are talking about tens of thousands of people coming to a town of 1,800 people or a lake area,” public information officer for Lake Ozark Police Dan Field said. “You can’t expect to manage that many people with a police force of fewer than 14 people.”

Motorcycles have been coming to the Lake of the Ozarks for the annual Bikefest Rally for 15 years. It was started by local businesses for riders to enjoy the area. 

“Bikefest in this community is more or less the camaraderie of everyone,” John Brown from Stover, Missouri, said. “It put everyone together in one spot.”

Brown has been coming to the annual rally for ten years. He now is a member of Bikers For Christ, an organization that cooks a free breakfast for motorcyclists. 

“It’s just a good time,” Brown said. “We get together and share our motorcycles and our custom ideas.”

Field said this event is a huge boost to the local economy. 

“They [attendees] stay all over the lake,” Field said. “The motels are full, the AirBNBs are full, the campgrounds are full, the place just fills up.”

Since Wednesday, there has been the roar of motorcycles around the lake. 

“It will just be a constant rumble, constant,” Field said. 

“I love that sound by the way,” Nicole Beckman said while laughing. 

Beckman and her husband rode their motorcycles from Delavan, Wisconsin to the Lake, an eight-hour trip. It’s their first time attending Bikefest.

“On YouTube, we saw a lot of different people posting about being here for this week and it really encouraged us to come out and do it also,” Beckman said.

“I would come back in a heartbeat. We’re definitely planning out next year’s trip here already.”

Beckman said she heard about last month’s shooting that left one dead and injured four others outside Casablanca Bar and Grill on the Strip but said she has felt safe with her group. 

“We haven’t come across anybody that has been rude or cruel in any way,” Beckman said. “There’s people from everywhere, Illinois, New York, Iowa, Missouri, I mean you name it.”

Field said local and state law enforcement agencies will also be on hand this week patrolling. 

“A lot of police departments are down in numbers, including ours,” Field said. “Safety is our concern for all of our visitors and residents, whether it’s this weekend or any weekend.”

Since the shooting last month, Field said the only thing he’s noticed different on the Strip, is some restaurants and businesses have posted signs saying. “Absolutely: NO PATCHES, NO ROCKERS, NO COLORS ON PREMISE.”

He believes it is regarding the fight between the motorcycle gangs in July. 

“Beyond that, it’s pretty much been business as usual,” Field said. “It’s been a great summer for us down here.”

Brown said he and other riders are just excited to enjoy a bike rally after others have been canceled or scaled back. 

“Most of them because of COVID they’re worried about, we’re not worried about it here,” Brown said. 

Bikefest goes through Sunday night. The Strip is closed to all vehicles other than motorcycles. The Bagnell Dam is also closed due to construction. 

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