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Leesburg Bikefest turned visitor into resident



Theresa Campbell | Staff Writer theresacampbell@dailycommercial.com

The rumble is back in town and a local biker who has been riding for 40-plus years can’t wait to see his biker friends and the 70-plus concerts and biker events at Leesburg Bikefest.

The 17th annual Leesburg Bikefest officially kicks off today and runs through Sunday.

“It’s awesome,” said Jim Rediske, 58, managing director of Page-Theus Funerals and Cremations in Leesburg, whose first introduction to the city of Leesburg was by way of Bikefest.

“Guys that I ride with and hang out with, we used to go to Daytona for Bike Week or Biketoberfest, and we kind of got tired of the way things are done over there. There were several guys in the group that said, ‘We really need to start going to the Leesburg Bikefest,’” Rediske said, recalling a conversation from about nine years ago.

“Where in the world is Leesburg?” replied Rediske, who came to the event and was hooked.

“And I ended up moving here and working for Page-Theus,” he said.

Soon after relocating to Leesburg nearly five years ago, Rediske reached out the Leesburg Partnership, host of Bikfesfest, and offered to help with Bikefest events.

“I told them I wanted to help with Bikefest in whatever that I could do,” he said. “Within a short period of time they brought me on board with Leesburg Partnership as a board member and now I’m on the executive board as recording secretary of the partnership.”

Rediske also takes a one-week vacation from work during Bikefest to help work on the grounds during the event. He serves as the VIP manager for the bands that will be performing on the main stage, the Gator Harley-Davidson stage on Towne Square, where he will assist the bands’ promoter, meet-and-greet sessions, security, and make sure the bands have what they need.

“I’m not afraid to admit it’s bit of an ego trip of being in charge of all that stuff,” he said. “I enjoy the involvement of being a part of such a wonderful event.”

He also has opened his home to six biker friends who are rolling into town from Fort Meyers for Bikefest.

“They certainly see a lot more of the event than I do, but usually on Saturdays of Bikefest, we all go for a lunch ride and I take them somewhere for lunch,” said Rediske, who is planning a trip to the Black Water Inn. “It’s a nice ride through the Ocala National Forest.”

Rediske also rides with several bikers’ groups in his free time, including rides with veteran motorcyclists and the Leesburg Retreads, which is for bikers 40 and older. He noted there are a couple of bikers’ clubs for funeral directors.

Some people have been stunned to learn the Page-Theus director is a biker.

“Most people say, ‘You’re a biker? That’s cool.’”

And this weekend, Rediske said, it’s all about having fun at Leesburg Bikefest.

“It’s the world’s largest motorcycle and three-day music event and it’s well worth attending, and all the entertainment and music that we are providing is no charge to the public,” he said. “It’s awesome.”