BY ANDREAS BUTLER
Bike Week brings up to 500,000 bikers and millions of dollars to the Daytona Beach area annually, and the Black community is expecting its share. The event kicked off on March 8 and will run through March 17.
The heart of Bike Week activities in Black Daytona occur on Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Boulevard (formerly Second Avenue). Although crowds were low on Monday and Tuesday, there was still plenty of excitement, optimism and enthusiasm in the air.
“I have been coming here for 20 consecutive years. So far things are slow.
Crowds are low, but I am expecting a big increase this weekend,” said Larry Geter.
Geter is in town as a food vendor. He owns Doo Dad’s Express Seafood & More out of Woodbine, Ga.
Events on MLK too
Local vendors were hopeful of the possibilities of Bike Week.
“We are going to do our usual things. We are opening up everything for the bikers and trying to get them here early. We will have open mic about every night with local talent and on Sunday we will have a block party/festival with jump houses for the kids,” said Sam Ferguson.
Ferguson owns the Safari Lounge on Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. In recent years, he has tried to bring more activities to the boulevard.
“It hasn’t gone as planned. Everyone is used to going on the Avenue (Dr. Mary McLeod Boulevard). We want to get some vendors down here on MLK to also have this part of town upbeat as well,” noted Ferguson.
Vendors also are feeling the impact of increases in vendor fees.
“Fees have increased. It looks like it jumps every two years. I remember when I first started it only cost $150. Now, I pay $1,058. You don’t see as many vendors. I don’t think the price will slow vendors down, but if the fees rise our prices for goods and merchandise rise,” explained Geter.
Another element of Bike Week that people can enjoy is the Harley-Davidson display.
“We have been here for four or five years, but this is our second year having our big rig on the Avenue. We bring a big display with a variety of bikes of different categories for people to see,” commented Frank Burchfield with Harley-Davidson.
“We will give away a 2014 Harley and a 2013 Iron Elite patch. The Iron Elite is for the African-American biker community. We also highlight how Black riders have contributed to motorcycling. We have a museum in Milwaukee and we have an Iron Elite website called www.ironelite.com.’’
Both the display and drawing for the bike are free.
There is a rich African-American heritage when it comes to motorcycles in this country.
“Historically, Blacks have contributed in so many ways to motorcycling.
Through Rides Magazine, we have gathered the information on how Black biker clubs began. Going back to World War II, many Blacks rode bikes in the military and when they returned they started clubs and kept riding.
“The clubs have the information, which isn’t written anywhere. We have also put this information in our museum,” added Burchfield.