(Sept. 20, 2013) Ocean City saw another boost in shoulder season crowds and business thanks to bike week events in the area last week, event organizers and local business owners agreed.
“We were up in attendance at the inlet overall. It had to be the largest bike week. There were well over 200,000” attendees over the course of the week, OC BikeFest Organizer Cliff Sutherland said.
BikeFest featured daredevil demos by Circus Una and riders on the Wall of Death as well as hundreds of vendors selling everything from leather to LED lights, but the highlight was the five national bands that took the stage throughout the week, Sutherland said.
“All the bands put on great shows. It’s unusual to have five national acts and all five of them just kill it,” he said.
Across the Route 50 Bridge, Bikes to the Beach Fall Rally packed the house at Hooper’s Crab House in West Ocean City, the restaurant’s General Manager Ryan Intrieri said.
“We had record-breaking numbers, that’s for sure,” he said. “We definitely had more than normal (for Bike Week).”
And in Salisbury, at Seacrets in Ocean City and at Rommel Harley-Davidson Delmarva in Seaford, Del., Delmarva Bike Week brought out visitors in droves for events like ride-in shows, the American Motor Dome thrill show, live bands and a host of vendors.
“We thought it was a very good crowd,” Vice President of Marketing and Communications at Rommel Harley-Davidson Reyn Mansson said. “Many people in our tent thought it was a better crowd than last year.”
Bike week organizers attributed the week’s major success to good weather, a sentiment echoed throughout the city.
“The weather was fantastic, especially for all of our visitors who were spending the weekend on their motorcycles,” Communications Manager for the Town of Ocean City Jessica Waters said.
“It was the perfect weekend,” Intreiri said.
And while he said some vendors like Fastlight LED’s were “nonstop busy the entire rally,” businesses outside of official bike week events also felt the boom as crowds spread into local restaurants, bars and hotels.
“If you took bike week out of the equation, the whole town would’ve been probably half of what it was” business-wise, co-General Manager at Seacrets Rico Rossi said. He estimated business at Seacrets was up 10 percent over bike week last year.
“People were all the way up to Rehoboth Beach Saturday night, having dinner,” Mansson said.
According to demoflush statistics, which use wastewater flows to estimate the city’s population, there were 194,076 people in Ocean City over the weekend. While that’s down just over 2 percent from bike week last year, businesses were “very happy” with the outcome, Sutherland said.
“We’re heard from a lot of restaurants and hotels, and obviously waiters and waitresses were very happy,” he said.
“Not only did our visitors have a good weekend, but our businesses seemed to have done quite well also,” Waters said.
Another indicator: “We sold more motorcycles this year than last year” at Harley-Davidson, Mansson said.
Bike week is growing in popularity, Sutherland said, and bikers came from as far as Canada and Texas to what was once a regional event.
“The bikers themselves were just excited to see all the other bikers,” he said. “They’re just coming because there’s a lot of bikes around, and they just enjoy being part of something big.”
The only problem he noticed were the crowds at some of the concerts at the Inlet, which were so big some attendees couldn’t see the stage.
“We had good issues,” he said.
Intrieri agreed, “For us here at Hooper’s, we’re going to work on our parking situation … Every space on Saturday was worth its weight in gold.”
“We had no complaints whatsoever,” he said.
“The city employees were tremendous setting up, police were excellent,” added Sutherland. “It’s great to see the city embracing the event.”