By Joe Crews
For Hometown News
Tourism officials are hoping more than 100,000 bikers will come to Volusia County for the 20th annual Biketoberfest Oct. 18-21.
"It's a great shot in the arm for the local economy," said Tangela Boyd, spokeswoman for the Daytona Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. "Of course, we're looking at an economic benefit for not just Daytona Beach, but the entire area."
For the first time, the CVB and the Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce will jointly sponsor a welcome center in Riverside Park at the corner of Beach Street and Mary McLeod Bethune Boulevard, Ms. Boyd said.
"We'll be interacting with visitors, giving away visitor guides and surveying them to find out where they're coming from," she said.
The welcome center also will give visitors the opportunity to register to win a Daytona Beach vacation getaway, or buy raffle tickets for a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
The four-day Biketoberfest will be "a long weekend of lively street festivals, concerts, motorcycle shows, demonstration rides and Fall Cycle Scene racing action at Daytona International Speedway," according to a bureau news release.
Biker-oriented businesses from Ormond Beach to Daytona Beach to Edgewater to West Volusia County have been gearing up all year for the festivities.
Businesses along Main Street in Daytona Beach are "hoping to make enough money to survive until Bike Week," said Tom Guest, who owned a business in that district until last year but still tries to stay informed about the merchant association's activities. "I don't know of anything super-special they have planned. It's pretty much the same businesses and the same entertainment."
But Mr. Guest said the Main Street area is still popular with bikers and the merchants remain busy well into the night when other areas are closing.
"Main Street is where people are going," he said. "It's the heart of Biketoberfest and always has been."
Destination Daytona, the huge Harley-Davidson dealership and entertainment center at the intersection of U.S. 1 and Interstate 95 north of Ormond Beach, has a full slate of activities planned, said Mandy Rossmeyer, who oversees the complex's promotion and events.
Among them are extended store hours for the dealership (8 a.m. to 8 p.m. all four days), as well as a Harley-Davidson demo truck that will bring 2013 models for test rides, she said. Destination Daytona also will have food, clothing and parts vendors and live music all day, every day; various competitions throughout the event; and rocker Lita Ford performing a free concert Saturday night.
"We are hoping the weather cooperates and people are ready to come out and spend some money and have some fun," Ms. Rossmeyer said.
In Edgewater, No Name Saloon will have a similar mix of vendors and entertainment, highlighted by a free Quiet Riot concert on Friday night, said owner Todd Johnson.
"We'll have four to five live bands every day," he said. "We have two stages, one inside and one outside, and three bars with full liquor."
On Thursday night, No Name will have a "Bike Bash," in which a "foreign" motorcycle will be run dry of oil so the engine burns up, and then guests can pay $5 for the privilege of whacking it with sledgehammers. The proceeds raised will be donated to charity, Mr. Johnson said.
No Name has advertised extensively in biker publications, so Mr. Johnson is expecting "huge crowds."
"Bikers want to ride and not be in one place," he explained. "We're giving a destination in southeast Volusia for riders to come to."
In DeLand, OB's Restaurant and Lounge will have bands on indoor and outdoor stages Wednesday through Saturday nights, but owner Ron O'Brian isn't sure what to expect, crowd-wise.
"I wish I could tell you, with the economy being so bad," Mr. O'Brian said. "We do really well during Bike Week, but Biketoberfest is too short for people to get over here."
Still, he expects to see a few riders from Georgia and Alabama during this year's Biketoberfest.
Also in DeLand, the first-ever fall edition of the DeLand Bike Rally will be on Saturday, Oct. 20. A designated area for bike parking will be on East Indiana Avenue, and the event will have a beer garden, live entertainment and merchant specials from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Hoteliers, too, are hopeful for a boost from the leather-and-chrome crowd. Bob Davis, head of the Hotel and Lodging Association of Volusia County, was still gathering feedback from his members last week.
"With about 15 replies, many say it may be a little better than last year, some say it will be about the same, and a couple say it's below last year," Mr. Davis said. "Most say it's going to be better."
For more information on Biketoberfest festivities, visit the CVB's website, biketoberfest.org or call toll-free 1-800-854-1234.