(Sept. 19, 2014) Business owners welcomed another leather-clad crowd last week as thousands of bikers arrived in Ocean City for the area’s BikeFest, Delmarva Bike Week and Bikes to the Beach Fall Rally.
As usual, the two-wheeled tourists brought a welcomed bump in business as the resort transitions from high summer to its shoulder season.
“We love Bike Week. It’s a good piece of business for us and that, right after the off season kicks in,” said Craig Roberts, Manager at the 45th Street Taphouse.
Seacret’s Assistant General Manager Lou Lombardo agreed: “It was definitely one of our better weekends.”
“We look forward to it every year,” said Jack Seamon, Manager at Oasis Bar and Grill in Whaleyville.
Demoflush numbers, which use wastewater flows to estimate the city’s population, showed 195,949 in town from Sept. 8-14 this year. That’s up from 194,076 over the same period last year.
Bike Week and BikeFest Marketing Director Chase Michael said, based on hotel rentals, anywhere from 130,000 to 165,000 came for the events featuring hundreds of national vendors, stunt acts, live music, biker personalities and even a two-wheel wedding at Ocean City’s inlet and convention center, Winter Place Park and the Arthur W. Perdue Stadium in Salisbury, and other venues around the resort.
“We were definitely up from last year all three days,” Michael said.
Another indicator of Bike Week’s success: Event sponsor Rommel Harley-Davidson sold 82 bikes at the convention center this year compared to 58 last year, he said.
With national names such as Fast Lights LEDs, Boss Hoss Cycles and Insane Leather On site, exhibitors were a major pull for bikers, Michael said.
“The vendors that we have are all national vendors and they’re a really big draw — more than people would think,” he said.
Bikes to the Beach Fall Rally upped its list of exhibitors this year, helping draw bigger crowds, said General Manager of host Hooper’s Crab House Ryan Intrieri.
“There were a lot of new, professional vendors to choose from,” he said.
Others came for the music, which ranged from Led Zeppelin tribute band Kashmir to local favorite Poverty Ridge.
At Seacrets, the cover bands brought the biggest crowds, Lombardo said.
“Friday just was an awesome night. That band drew one of the largest crowds I’ve ever seen to a tribute band during Bike Week,” he said of AC/DC tribute group Livewire. The 49th Street restaurant also featured the Artimus Pyle Band playing Lynard Skynard’s classics Wednesday night and 7 Bridges Eagles tribute band Thursday.
“They drew really big crowds,” Lombardo said, adding that Seacrets is considering expending the entertainment into Saturday next year.
Personalities from Full Throttle’s Mike Thaler at 45th Street to Miss Bikes to the Beach Michele Smith at Hooper’s and a pint-sized model at Oasis also kept biker’s coming.
The drizzle Saturday put a damper on some Bike Week festivities, but not enough to keep businesses down, organizers agreed.
“Thursday and Friday night were great. Saturday afternoon it was… just tough with the tiki bars outside with the weather,” Roberts said, though new Shallow Waters Restaurant helped hold the crowd with its large interior. Business was “on the positive side a little,” compared to bike weekend last year, he said.
“Wednesday and Thursday were great, Friday was record-breaking,” Interieri said. “Saturday the rain drove people under the tent.”
But, with the return of good weather Sunday, “it seemed like more people stuck around,” he said.
With plans already in the works for Bike Week 2015, organizers have a few ideas for improvements next year, from rearranging parking to booking more live music.
“With it being the 15th anniversary of Delmarva Bike Week and the fifth anniversary of OC BikeFest, I think we’ve got some stuff up our sleeves — but I can’t tell you what yet,” Michael said.