A request for accommodations tax money to rebrand the Atlantic Beach Bikefest into an event where organizers say all races could feel welcome came up empty in tax spending suggestions. But organizers are still working on plans to bring their idea of a “Memorial Day Weekend Unity Bikefest” to life.
The NMB (North Myrtle Beach) Drag Strip, Inc. requested $332,000 of Myrtle Beach’s accommodations tax money to help change the image of the Atlantic Beach Bikefest through a marketing campaign and a unity concert. The campaign would play out in advertisements and billboards welcoming the crowds that come for Bikefest with warnings that those who act up will be locked up.
But the Myrtle Beach Accommodations Tax Advisory Committee suggested city leaders give nothing to the cause.
Cathy Gore, who is organizing the unity concert to draw crowds to the Drag Strip that weekend, said that was because she wasn’t prepared to answer all of the questions asked of groups seeking A-tax funds.
“We didn’t have enough information,” Gore said, but she and her partners still wanted to throw their ideas out there. Myrtle Beach City Council is set to make its final decision on accommodations tax appropriations next month.
Organizers say the goal of the plan they propose is to shed the negative images of lewd behavior, criminal activity, traffic jams and lack of diversity that has haunted the Bikefest.
One way to stop the lewd and criminal behavior is to tell them to stop, don’t do it or you’ll go to jail. Cathy Gore, who is planning the Unity Bikefest with NMB Drag Strip president and her husband, James Gause, and The Carolina Knight Riders
Gore said they plan to use a marketing push with television and radio advertisements and billboards to discourage bad behavior like law enforcement agencies do to discourage impaired driving.
“One way to stop the lewd and criminal behavior is to tell them to stop, don’t do it or you’ll go to jail,” she said. Advertisements showing the bad behaviors are not what the city is all about could also help the local image, she added.
But limited funds will mean they have to limit advertisements this year to the local community.
“We’re going to do it on a very small scale,” she said.
Dreams are big, though, for a unity concert series.
Gore says they want to feature a national recording artist to “promote unity between the different bike cultures” and the series would be held at the Drag Strip off of S.C. 90 in Longs, diverting traffic from Highway 17.
Gore said they’ve looked at trying to sign big names to perform at the unity concert like Snoop Doggy Dog and Miley Cyrus or Kanye West and Taylor Swift.
“How cool would it be for them to come together?” Gore asked of a West-Swift combo. Each artist, however, was demanding nearly a million dollars per booking.
“We haven’t really got the funds for it,” she said. But organizers still plan to hold a show this year, she added, featuring independent artists of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds that Gore has connections with through her work in marketing.
The whole idea this year is to market it’s not a black thing, it’s a bike thing. Cathy Gore, who is planning the Unity Bikefest with NMB Drag Strip president and her husband, James Gause, and The Carolina Knight Riders
NMB Drag Strip, Inc. teamed up with The Carolina Knight Riders to plan the “Memorial Day Weekend Unity Bikefest” with the tagline “It’s not a Black Thing, It’s a Bike Thing.” The original Bikefest began with the Carolina Knight Riders, Gore said.
“The NMB Drag Strip and The Carolina Knight Riders are attempting to promote what they originally started, which is a biker’s good time in a safe environment where all cultures are welcomed,” James Gause, president and CEO of NMB Drag Strip, Inc. and Gore’s husband, wrote in an application to the city’s Accommodations Tax Advisory Committee. “We believe The Unity Bikefest, with an effective marketing plan, including a national recording artist, will continue to boost Myrtle Beach’s economy by attracting more tourists to the area and promoting unity and harmony among the races.”
The Carolina Knight Riders were “always concerned the Atlantic Beach Bikefest lured a certain demographic. That was the perception... The whole idea this year is to market it’s not a black thing, it’s a bike thing,” said Gore, who came up with the slogan.
Sam Cox, president of the Carolina Knight Riders, said they thought the event would be “great for the bikers to have something to do for the daytime.” But he declined to talk about the event’s details, noting specifics were still being hammered out.
“We’re hoping to make this big,” Gore said.
Reach Weaver at 843-444-1722 or follow her on Twitter @TSNEmily.