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Sturgis full throttle

The North Okanagan was a buzz with tourists attending Sturgis North.

The five-day motorcycle rally, trade show and music festival at the Motoplex Speedway took place Wednesday through Sunday, featuring a variety of entertainers and activities.

The event, which is a first for Vernon (following a venue change from Salmon Arm last year) attracted a number of return visitors, as well as first-timers.

No matter where they were from or how many times they had been, many were eager to get their hands on some Sturgis wear.

"They're the most desirable thing here," said Rachel Scott, manager of clothing for Sturgis North. "I have people who come in and say give me 10...and I have people who will come in and buy $1,000 worth."

A number of other vendors also did well selling clothing, Harley gear and gadgets.

"I've spent $300 on shirts," admits Bill Braham, who hasĀ also managed to collect a few coins from all those interested in snapping a photo with his furry rider.

Braham, a former Vernon resident who now lives in Langley, accepts donations for animal rescue in exchange for those wanting a picture of his miniature American Eskimo, who is decked out in a beanie helmet and goggles and perched on the back of his bike.

Actually called a Helmutt, Braham constructs the pet safety gear himself and is working on selling it.

But for now, he's just happy riding around, collecting attention and support for animal rescue.

And Paka doesn't seem to mind much either.

"He's got 200,000 miles, that more than some bikers I know," said Braham of his hog dog who goes everywhere with him.

Sturgis also raises funds for the Canadian Cancer Society through nightly 50/50 draws. The first night alone claimed $542 and made a lucky ticket holder that much richer.

The event also benefits the local economy, in a number of ways.

"Bringing together approximately 35,000 people of all ages to enjoy a five-day festival featuring top name bands, a trade show, motorcycle rides, combined with a variety of activities enjoyed by enthusiasts of all ages, requires a great deal of vision, organization, time and commitment," said Eric Foster, Vernon-Monashee MLA, in a letter to Sturgis organizers.

"In addition to providing festival attendees a wonderful experience filled with fun activities and fantastic entertainment, we are most appreciative of the economic benefit of Sturgis North 2012 to the City of Vernon, the surrounding Okanagan Valley and entire province of British Columbia, as your many riders travel and visit the various communities during their festival attendance."

Entertainment includes, but is not limited to: Kim Mitchell and Brian Howe of Bad Company (Friday), Nick Gilder of Sweeney Todd and The Guess Who (Saturday) and the Stampeders and Lee Rocker of the Stray Cats (Sunday). For full entertainment schedules visit www.sturgisnorth.com

There will also be biker games, stunt riders, a biker build-off, daily show and shines and charity rides.

Check back at vernonmorningstar.com for updated photo coverage.

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