By Gregg Hoffmann Special to Published Mar 30, 2008 at 5:27 AM

The Mississippi River coast in Wisconsin will gain two attractions -- one this summer and another over the next several months.

Plans are coming together for the 50th anniversary celebration of S&S Cycle, a builder of motorcycle performance parts for American V-Twins. Up to 5,000 bikers could flock to La Crosse for the event, June 26-29.

Down river in Prairie du Chien, construction will begin on a $10 million convention, hotel, apartment and condominium complex. The center will greatly enhance that area's ability to handle conventions and large tourism groups.

The S&S celebration features a "build-off" contest, involving 50 motorcycle builders who use S&S parts. The winner of the contest will win $50,000 in product credit. S&S parts are used by customizers of Harleys and other motorcycles around the world.

Custom builders from as far away as Australia, New Zealand and Japan are expected to participate in the build-off and overall celebration. Music and other entertainment will be announced at a later date and hotels listed on the event's Web site already are sold out.

"What we're doing here is the V-Twin motorcycle equivalent of the Sundance Film Festival," S&S president Brett Smith recently told the La Crosse Tribune. "The people coming here are the movie stars of the motorcycle world."

Smith said he specifically wanted to hold the celebration in La Crosse and southwest Wisconsin. S&S has its original facility in La Farge, in the Kickapoo Valley.

"We could have held our anniversary party at Sturgis or Daytona because the whole motorcycle industry is already there," Smith said. "But we wanted to do something for this community specifically."

The Boys and Girls Club, Riverfront and the La Crosse Children's Museum are selling S&S merchandise, and will benefit from the revenue.

While the S&S celebration looks to be a fun one-time event, the company remains devoted to the area for the long term. The Prairie development also should serve that area for years.

Developer Gary Barto has proposed a 17,000-sq. ft. convention complex in downtown Prairie. Groundbreaking is this spring.

No hotel brand has been named yet for the proposed complex, but it likely will be along the lines of an AmericInn or Holiday Inn, Prairie officials said.

The new development in Prairie will make it one of the premier destination spots along the Mississippi. It is centrally located between the Dubuque and La Crosse areas. The development in Prairie need not hurt those two markets.

Instead, combined with Dubuque and La Crosse, Prairie could help the stretch of the river more effectively compete with other places in the Midwest for conventions and tourism.

Developers said the new complex also could help other motels and restaurants in the area. To this point, facilities in Prairie are stretched to handle large conventions and other events.

The area hosts Rendezvous, one of the largest historic re-enactment events in the country. A large Cabela's also attracts millions to the area each year. The complex could help attract other events and businesses to the area.

The developers say they are working in phases and no schedule for completion of the complex has been announced.

Gregg Hoffmann Special to
Gregg Hoffmann is a veteran journalist, author and publisher of Midwest Diamond Report and Old School Collectibles Web sites. Hoffmann, a retired senior lecturer in journalism at UWM, writes The State Sports Buzz and Beyond Milwaukee on a monthly basis for OMC.