- Last Updated on Wednesday, 16 October 2013 11:28
- Published on Wednesday, 16 October 2013 11:28
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Steven Keene, General Manager of All-American Harly Davidson of Hughesville, Md. wants to bring BikeFest to Colonial Beach. He recently met with Carey Geddes, Director of the Colonial Beach Chamber of Commerce and Brian and Vickie Coffman, owners of High Tides Restaurant about creating such an event before presenting the idea to Colonial Beach Town Council during their Sep. 26 work session.
Also attending the meeting was Ripley, a DJ with 97 ROCK, and Sergeant G.W. Keyser of the Westmoreland County Sheriff’s Office.
Geddes said the event would be very large, so although the Chamber has agreed to co-sponsor, the event and would require no money from the town, the group wants to include the town council and Westmoreland Board of Supervisors in some of the decision making.
The event would require some extra resources from both the town and county for extra police patrols and other accommodations that regularly go with large events, such as; use of grounds, porta-potties and electrical usage.
Keene talked with the council about the misconceptions a lot of people have about bikers. The old stereotypical profile of a biker, he said, is; Caucasian males, 25 to 50, covered in tattoos, dressed in leather, and appearing rough around the edges. And in some cases, that is still true, with nothing better to do than to ride around town stirring up trouble. “That would be the old stereotype,” Keene said. “In reality though, this couldn’t be further from the truth.”
Today’s bikers average between the ages of 25 and 54 years old, they are Caucasian, African American, Hispanic and Asian, men and women. A lot of women are coming on board with the motorcycle industry,” Keene said, adding, “The average household income is between 75 to 100 thousand dollars, and most of them own their own homes.” Keene told the council, “Harley Davidsons are the Cadillac of motorcycles, so we invest a lot in them. While bikers may be interested in tattoos (and I also have some tattoos), and chrome, for some of us, we also share interest in art.” He said that he not only buys local art, but that of artists from places where he has been. “So, we do shop at the events we attend.”
We love music, blues and jazz, religion and most importantly, we like reaching out to those that are in need. I have yet to find a more charitable crowd than the bikers when there is a community in need,” Keene said.
The Chamber of Commerce has suggested to Keene that proceeds be donated to the Colonial Beach Education Fund. Keene also said that bikers donate to the Wounded Warriors at almost every event.
WHAT IS A BIKEFEST?
Keene said, “It’s just a series of activities at scheduled events, taking place at a specific destination (for example, Colonial Beach), geared toward a biker demographic, strategically planned to accommodate their interests. All this in hopes of creating a tradition for loyal motorcycle enthusiasts, to participate in for years to come.
“We are not those rough-and-tumble people looking to come into a town and disrupt the city that we are visiting,” Keene added.
Activities include bike shows; there is the “weinie” bike ride, where bikers get on a bike with a rider, and try to take a bite out of a hot dog; a bike rodeo shows off a riders’ slow-speed skills, such as the “roadkill” event, where riders attempt to pick up stuffed animals inside a small area.
Events are all geared around having fun, while practicing safety. Of course, there will be food and beverage venders serving sodas, tea and alcoholic beverages. There is always live music, and many events end with a fireworks show.
As with the Jet Ski Races, there would be no admission fee to riders or spectators. Each event does charge an entrance fee for the participants. Harley Davidson would also cover production and design of an event shirt through sponsors. The town would be involved with the event’s logo design.
HISTORY OF THE BIKEFEST
“It all started years ago at Daytona Beach, with Bruce Rusmyer of the Harley Davidson Dealership. He decided to have a little get-together for the weekend. Look at it now, my gosh! Hundreds of thousands of people go there because it’s a destination. There’s other events just like that one around the country, and this can be one of them,” Keene explained.
Keene said that the first year will not be huge like Daytona Beach, but with time, it could grow. He said that there is already a small presence of bikers who enjoy coming to Colonial Beach, who have attended some smaller rides to Dockside and High Tides. “When riders like a destination, they usually make plans to come back, before they leave,” Keene said.
The town will benefit from this event because it is being held during the off-season, after most families have ended their summer activities.
Revenue will be generated through event sales and meals and lodging taxes, and local businesses will profit from increased retail sales. Lodging in surrounding areas would be utilized, since there would eventually be an anticipated number of 100,000+ riders, after several years.
Keene added, “All the restaurants/bars can have events at each establishment that will bring in money. The event will promote revitalization of a small beach town by bringing in interest in dollars from the mid-Atlantic region, which will reap benefits for months and years to come, by putting Colonial Beach back on the map,” Keene told the council.
Councilwoman Brubaker aired her concern, saying, “We just had a major jet ski event here, and Carey organized some jet ski races for the council. Having served on the team with two of my fellow council members, I would hope that there is not going to be any bike-riding race where the council members...”. The crowd’s laughter shut out the rest of her comments.
Brubaker said that she is familiar with Harley Davidson’s locations and has been to “Rolling Thunder” several times, and that she supports the endeavor. She said that at a recent event at Stratford Hall, the Harley Davidson group allowed a 75-year-old woman to pose for a picture on a motorcycle. And she is so proud of it, showing it off to everyone she meets.
There was one serious concern brought up by Councilwoman Wanda Goforth. She reminded the council that this event would fall on the second week in October, conflicting with the Second Friday ArtWalk in Colonial Beach.
The ArtWalk has continued to bring many visitors and art enthusiasts to the town, year-round for more than five years. Goforth said although her family owns several motorcycles themselves, she is concerned that some ArtWalk attendees may be uncomfortable with the noise that comes with so many motorcycles, and Carl and Joyce Thor aired concerns about parking during the ArtWalk event.
The group had a brief discussion, and Keene suggested that the event planners could hold an event on Friday evening for the bikers, out at the Colonial Beach Dragway, with their permission.
Geddes pressed the council for a show of support, saying the Chamber of Commerce and Harley Davidson don’t want to spend too much time on discussing the event, if it had no council support.
Since the event promises to require no financial support from the town, and the group is already looking into funding the extra security and other resources needed for the event, the council gave a unanimous “thumbs up” to begin planning the event for 2014.