MYRTLE BEACH — Participants and organizers at the 2013 fall bike rally said the event was bigger than a year ago, despite fewer vendors.
Bill Barber, general manager at Suck, Bang, Blow original, said he saw a 35 percent rise in business from the event that ended on Sunday.
He wasnt sure how much of that increase was due to Suck, Bang, Blow Four Corners closing, but called this years rally incredible.
We anticipated a rise from it [Four Corners closing], but we were blown away, Barber said. It was the best fall rally weve had in numerous years.
Mark Krom, director of BikeWeekMB.com, said the numbers were still being crunched Monday, but he called the rally a success.
The feedback has just been incredibly positive from the bike week businesses that cater to the bike week crowd, he said. There were fewer vendor permits issued for this years fall event, according to Horry County officials. On Monday, county spokeswoman Lisa Bourcier said only 32 temporary vending permits for the bike rally compared to 45 in 2012.
Krom attributed what he and Barber called a return to larger crowds, in part, to promotion of other parts of the Grand Strand for the rally.
More venues participate in bike week than in recent years, he said. Captain Seaweeds out in Bucksport, 15 months ago they werent a player. Now theyre a favorite rally site.
While the rally was considered a success by many, it wasnt without tragedy. Three people were killed in crashes involving motorcycles during the event.
A couple from Blacksburg, Va. died during the weekend.
Thomas Weeks III, 43, died Friday about 2 p.m. in a crash on U.S. 17 Bypass near Seaboard Commons in Myrtle Beach. His wife Stephanie Weeks, 36, died Saturday morning. The pair were on a motorcycle headed north on U.S. 17 when the driver apparently lost control and ended up in the southbound lane where a collision with an SUV occurred, according to Myrtle Beach Police Capt. David Knipes.
On Sunday, Merry Holaday Davis, 64, of Trenton, Texas died when a deer ran into the motorcycle she was riding with her husband on U.S. 501.
Her husband, Harvey Davis, also 64, was taken to the hospital, but his condition was not known Monday.
Rally organizers say they already are looking to next May, which is being called the 75th year of biker rallies in Myrtle Beach.
Krom said events are already being planned, but he had few details on Monday.
He said all signs are pointing to bigger and better rallies.
The telling indication is the feedback from the bikers, he said. All the positive comments about the experience and they say its better than it was before.
Contact AMANDA KELLEY at 626-0381, or follow her at Twitter.com/TSN_akelley.