BY ANDREAS BUTLER
Bike Week 2017 rolls into town this weekend and area merchants and organizers are hoping this one will bring more vendors, bikers and money into the Black community.
The annual biker event starts March 10 and ends March 19.
“We don’t really know until the weekends. We always hope to have more vendors. They usually arrive later in the week. Right now we have a good number of vendors,” said Barbara Turner-Hymes, entertainment coordinator for the Second Avenue Merchants Association (SAMA).
The goal is to grow the event to its past glory and even better.
‘Like Mardi Gras’
SAMA is a non-profit organization created by several business owners along MMB. SAMA organizes the Bike Week festivities along MMB. C/Style Entertainment & Productions handles the entertainment.
“Our goal is to always have it grow. It’s difficult because it costs money to do the event. People don’t know about the cost. We want this to be a festival-type event like Mardi Gras. Our hope is that the community and city come out and support us and welcome the bikers, especially along the Avenue (Mary McLeod Bethune Boulevard),” Turner-Hymes commented.
‘Clean adult event’
Once again, Mary McLeod Bethune Boulevard (MMB), historically known as Second Avenue or The Ave., will be filled with Biker festivities over the next two weekends.
In the past, thousands of bikers and and locals have congregated to the area during Bike Week to relax, listen to music, and patronize food and merchandise vendors. The second weekend is usually the busiest of the two.
Referred to as the world’s largest motorcycle event, hundreds of thousands of bikers descend on the area in March. The economic impact of Bike Week in Volusia County is reportedly about $75 million.
African-American organizers are hoping some of that impact will felt by Black-owned businesses.
“We are looking at getting more people involved to help the event grow including residents, community leaders, businesses, cultures and sponsors. This will not just be us but all people like on the beachside,’’ said Chester McNorton of C/Style Entertainment & Productions.
“We want to attract all people. Second Avenue is a historic hub of activity in the Black community.
You see similar events in Black communities across the country that are thriving. We want that,’’ he continued.
McNorton said the goal is to make Bike Week “an enjoyable and clean adult event.’’
“We want to expand it every year and make it bigger and better. Why not come out? What else are you going to do? Come see the scenery and enjoy the atmosphere,’’ he urged.
Bike show and more
This year’s event will feature a custom bike show brought by Kory Souza Originals, which specializes in custom bikes. Winners will receive prizes.
Souza Originals debuted during Biketoberfest with a smaller bike show but will bring more than 200 custom bikes to Bike Week.
Bike Week will include a stepping event presented by the Pepper Steppers and Sexy & Smooth Gliders. They also performed at Biketoberfest. More stepping groups are expected to participate.
An R&B band also is scheduled to perform.
Daytona’s own Big Franc of Big Franc Radio will be part of the festivities. Franc was a member of the early 1990s Daytona hip-hop group Break Down that had the hit single “Dip Baby Dip.’’
Also performing is DeLand’s Diamond Prince of Vibes Productions. He is a writer and producer in the R&B, reggae and country genres.
“I want to do something like a ‘Daytona’s Got Talent’ to get out and expose local artists. It hasn’t really gained momentum. If it doesn’t, I’ll just use the talent that I have. Anybody locally wishing to perform should contact me. They cannot use profanity or get naked. They can take off some clothes but not get butt naked,” added McNorton.
Other activities will include a spades contest with prizes.
Authors from the F.R.E.S.H. Book Festival, which was created by Donna Banks-Gray, also will be on hand.
“Each author will be there promoting their books and education. This is the first time for this,” McNorton added.
Caution about kids
McNorton is advising parents to think before allowing their children to be around Bike Week activities.
“This is for adults. It’s hard to keep children away. If parents were going to stay with their children, it’s one thing. We don’t feel good about them running around,” he explained.
“Bike Week attracts everybody. You have pedophiles and so on. We don’t do background checks. All we need is for one child to disappear and it would be something. If we had something for kids and something happens, we would be liable.’’
He continued, “We try to get them out and control it by the music that we play. When they get too many in numbers, we go back to the old-school music, which pans them out. When you get too many kids, they get rowdy. Also, that pushes older folks away.”
Added Turner-Hymes, “My concern is safety first. This isn’t billed by the Chamber of Commerce as an event for children. You have so many people here.’’
The organizers are hoping to add events for youth in the future.