Vendors would like an economic boost from this weekend’s annual biker event, but are worried that rain will keep bikers away.
BY ANDREAS BUTLER
Biketoberfest has rolled into Volusia County and local businesses are hoping it will bring an economic boost to the area. This year’s dates are Oct. 17-20.
Daytona Beach’s Black community is no exception. Biker festivities are focused mainly on Mary McLeod Bethune Boulevard.
The Second Avenue Merchants Association (SAMA), a non-profit organization that organizes festivities along the Boulevard, are hoping business will pick up by the end of this week.
“Things are looking slow, but we are hoping for a late pickup. Weather seems to be the main concern,” said SAMA spokesperson Barbara Turner Hymes.
“The rains last week have vendors being cautious. They wonder if rain will come this weekend. For Bike Week, which is longer, it’s no problem. But for the four days during Biketoberfest, they are cautious.”
The main concern
Patricia Heard, who owns Second Avenue Plaza, was hearing the same things.
“I’ve had vendors call and say they aren’t coming. Weather is the main concern,” said Heard. “They are worried about rain. I still expect a fair crowd. We are working to improve things in this area.”
Daytona Beach is a tourist area and special events like Biketoberfest are designed to provide an economic boost.
“Vendors want to come and make money,” said Heard. “We also need more lighting in the area. I hope the beautification of the street helps in the near future.”
Turner-Hymes echoed, “Yes, the vendors do want to come and make money. The hope is for a good crowd.”
Seeking a boost
Local businesses in the Black community are looking for a boost.
Latwanna Nimmons and Shironda Guy own Miss Zella Mae Munch Shoppe at 556 Mary McLeod Bethune Blvd. It was a popular eatery in the past but sat idle for decade. It reopened three years ago.
“We are hoping for a little boost in business. The hope is that Biketoberfest is a positive economic boost and fun for the entire community,” Guy told the Daytona Times.
Funds for AMVETS
The American Veterans (AMVETS) Cherry Branch Post 100 at 526 Orange Ave. usually draw a crowd but is now closed due to a fire months ago.
The AMVETS will be at 90 Degrees Sports Bar & Grill, 144 Ridgewood Ave. on Thursday and Friday night and Past Times Restaurant at 709 S. Nova Road in Ormond Beach on Saturday night.
“They asked us to link up them and assist our fundraising efforts. It also helps them too. We are trying to raise funds for our building whether to fix it or find another. We are still hammering out the times,” said Commander Booker T. Williams of the Cherry Branch AMVETS.
Little action on MLK
Martin Luther King, Jr. (MLK) Boulevard isn’t the hub of biker activity that it used to be in the past but local businesses along that street also hope for a boost from bikers.
Cynthia Johnson owns Soul Food Café at 456 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. near the corner and Loomis Avenue.
“I get no biker business here. I would like too. Maybe I can get something going outside to attract them one day,” Johnson told the Times.
Businesses along MLK that normally do well are dealing with road construction projects between International Speedway Boulevard and Orange Avenue which currently has traffic closed between Eldorado Street and Magnolia Avenue.
Sharon Hawkins owns Hair & Nails of Elegance, next to Lil Mama’s Kitchen at the corner of MLK Boulevard and Magnolia Avenue.
“We expect little business in this area. I know next door usually gets a lot of biker businesses. Construction is limiting access to our businesses. There are no detour signs and no signs indicating that we are here,” said Hawkins.
“They need to work day and night. Last Saturday was the only Saturday they worked. Construction workers are parking in our spots. I also hear we aren’t getting underground utilities now.”
“We’re very concerned with the road construction,” Johnson added. ‘’It is already messing with regular business even on my end. Many customers don’t want to deal with the detours and navigate these back streets; especially at night.”
Shuffle and slide
C-Styles Entertainment handles entertainment for SAMA along Mary McLeod Bethune Boulevard and the company has new acts coming.
The band 5 Live from Valdosta, Georgia will perform live during Saturday night’s block party from 7:30 p.m. until 10 p.m.
The “Come Shuffle and Slide’’ line dancing and fitness event with Daytona’s own Sexy & Smooth Gliders will feature all-new line dances beginning at 6 p.m. Saturday.
“It’s a new component that we are adding and hoping will be successful and grow during both Bike Week and Biketoberfest,” said Chester McNorton of C-Style Entertainment. “The line dancing is more about fitness now and not just come out and dance. It’s come and dance but also get some exercise. The hope is to help a few people get in shape.”
The “Daytona’s Got Talent’’ talent show is on Friday, Oct.18 at 6 p.m.