Fewer venues sign up for motorcycle rally in Myrtle Beach area

“This is the worst year Daytona Beach has had in almost 20 years. they had rain all that week, and traditionally people who don’t go to that rally because of weather will then come to Myrtle Beach; at least they did before the helmet laws and noise ordinances went into effect,” said Buster Brown, co-owner of the Rat Hole in Socastee. “We’re crossing our fingers that that will be the case. I’ve gotten a lot of encouragement and supportive e-mails from people who have gone to our Web site. there are people who want this to continue and who will be back this year, but there’s a lot of indication that there’s going to be smaller attendance again.”

The Rat Hole will move forward as planned with its annual motorcycle rodeo events, but Brown, who promotes other motorcycle events around the country, said he has been putting less effort into the Myrtle Beach events. Attendance started to drop in 2009 after the first year for strict noise ordinances and a helmet law inside Myrtle Beach. several pro-motorcycle candidates ran for mayor and City Council in Myrtle Beach with promises to overturn the rally restrictions. All but one incumbent was re-elected when voters went to the polls last November.

“It’s going to be business as usual for us. … We’re doing what we’ve always done. Most people are putting their heart and efforts and money in other places. When you have other places that support tourism and would love to have it, it’s hard to do business in a place that doesn’t support business or tourism.,” said Brown.

Mike Shank, who in previous years has played a large role in promoting the spring motorcycle rally, said he also is stepping back from the event to focus on other events in Myrtle Beach such as this weekend’s Beerfest at The Market Common. Shank said this will be his last year booking bike rally vendors and events at Barefoot Landing, which in years past has been one of the largest vendor spots for the spring rally. His contract with the management group that runs Barefoot Landing will end this year.

“I don’t think you’ll see an advertisement in the biker magazines until may. Places used to advertise months in advance, but you aren’t seeing that,” he said. “I’ve really had to transition my business and start over on a lot of projects. with what’s happened, it’s just hard to make that much money on the biker events for the amount of money you’re putting into them.”

Shank said he thinks it will be several years before the other events that promoters have been trying to book for may make close to the amount of money the rallies brought in.

“There’s not going to be a savior for the month of may.”

Shank only has two venues for this year’s rally, including the Myrtle Beach Harley-Davidson dealership and Barefoot Landing, which is in North Myrtle Beach and doesn’t require a county special events permit. The county will begin taking applications for vending permits in April. That number was down last year from previous years, dropping from 394 in 2008 to 146 in 2009. At the bar Suck Bang Blow, named for the way a combustion engine works, manager Ted Holford said he thinks the venue will be down about 30 percent in vendors from last year.

“We were down probably 30 percent from the year before as well,” he said. “We’ve been hearing from hotels that they’re down as much as 42 percent. We’re just moving forward as planned though. We’ve got all of our bands booked and everything.”

Fewer venues sign up for motorcycle rally in Myrtle Beach area