Bikefest venue offers something to build to

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Standing behind his custom-built three-wheel motorcycle, Mike Gilliam of Lake Charles, La., said he had heard about Bikefest and decided to spend the weekend here in Bainbridge.

During the Saturday morning bike show around Willis Park, Gilliam’s motorcycle was polished and poised with the other three-wheel motorcycles that were competing in the bike show.

Gilliam said he’s retired and trailers his motorcycle all across the country. With approximately $100,000 invested in the motorcycle, Gilliam only brings it out on occasion when he’s in a place that strikes his fancy. He said it was custom-built by some friends of his in Miami, Fla.

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“When I get to a good spot, I stop and check it out,” Gilliam said. “I heard about it (Bainbridge Bikefest), and I wanted to see what it was all about.”

With this year being the first at the new venue on Pond Town Road, Gilliam said he liked the site being away from the city.

“The guys running it, they must be bikers. They are doing everything that bikers want,” Gilliam said.

Roy Reynolds, president of Bikefest, said the weekend was “fantastic,” but because of higher than expected costs to get the new venue open and lower paid attendance, the charities Bikefest has traditionally supported may not get any support from Bikefest this year.

“Our charities may suffer this year, but that means more for them next year,” Reynolds said Tuesday.

Approximately 4,000 people attended Bikefest this year; however, approximately 2,500 were paid attendees and the other approximately 1,500 were sponsors, vendors or volunteers who had assisted the organization with the site and festivities. During its heydays of 2002 and 2003, Bikefest attracted approximately 10,000 persons, Reynolds said.

Although there was some concern about the weather and its potential impact on the dirt roads at the new venue, Reynolds said the road didn’t pose a problem because the organizers had a local company ensure the roads were scraped and drained well.

“Water didn’t hurt us,” Reynolds said.

The weather forecast may have though.

“The forecast of rain hurt our attendance somewhat,” he said.

Also during the poker run, a woman was shocked when she was indirectly hit by a lightning strike at Big Jim’s. Reynolds and witnesses said the woman appeared to be OK.

Reynolds said he hopes to now market the new venue for other uses besides Bikefest, such as an old-fashioned gospel sing where families can stay for a weekend.

“We’ve got something to build to now,” Reynolds said of the venue. “I’m excited about using the property for purposes besides Bikefest.”