Bike Week Organizer Addresses Concerns

OCEAN CITY – Amidst concerns it’s migrating away from the resort area, the organizer of Delmarva Bike Week tried to clear the air this week and lay out exactly what’s on tap for the fall event.

Delmarva Bike Week is returning in September with four out of their past five venues, including Seacrets, Winter Place Park, Perdue Stadium and Harley Davidson of Seaford, which is the event’s main sponsor.

According to Bruce Bennett of Delmarva Bike Week, the event is in the process of “contracting” vendors, which is the normal practice of winter time activities in preparing for September’s event. Bennett estimated having around the same amount of vendors Delmarva Bike Week has had in previous years.

Seacrets will be the only official venue in Ocean City so far for this year’s event.

“I think the changes in the event for 2011 verses what it’s been in the previous three years…are minor,” Bennett said.

A few weeks ago, Cliff Sutherland presented the Mayor and City Council with the concept of OC Bike Fest. The event will take place in downtown’s Inlet Lot a week before Sunfest and the same weekend as Delmarva Bike Week. Sutherland said that the event will attempt to draw people to Ocean City during the four-day event.

Sutherland presented the council with examples of how Delmarva Bike Week is moving their event farther away from Ocean City, besides the fact that Delmarva Bike Week’s grounds for Ocean City, Harley Davidson of Berlin, has closed.

One activity Sutherland announced to the council was that Delmarva Bike Week is planning to have a large concert in Salisbury on Saturday night during Bike Week.

“They [Bennett family] are making a real effort to draw people away from here, to Salisbury,” Sutherland said at that time.

This week Bennett said that the Delmarva Bike Week officials have heard the same rumor but know nothing of a concert.

“That has never been discussed,” Bennett said. “Delmarva Bike Week’s locations close at 7 p.m. and we encourage our visitors to go visit our sponsors, like Seacrets nightclub.”

Bennett said that Delmarva Bike Week is struggling with inaccuracies and false opinions on their event.

“Whether it’s some of the comments people have made…or just their opinion,” he said.  “Some of them I’m not sure were made with correct information supplied to them and that is just a difficult thing to handle.”

Bennett said that it is just part of business.

“What you have been hearing is from someone coming into town trying to start a new business,” he said. “That’s one side of the story the council has been told, and hopefully he can deliver to them everything Ocean City hopes he [Sutherland] can.”

Bennett said that Delmarva Bike Week will support the people who support the event, “so that the people who come on board as sponsors and partner with us are who we going to encourage our people to go visit.”

That includes businesses and organizations from Crisfield Md., all the way to Harrington Del., and as far west as the Chesapeake Bay.

“What we hope to do is introduce people to all of what Delmarva has to offer,” Bennett said. “There is a tremendous variety of activities and interesting things for people to see, and that’s all part of the event.”

He said that Delmarva Bike Week is not just about motorcycles but also to introduce attendees to the area so hopefully they return to visit.

“That is something that hasn’t changed in 10 years,” Bennett said.

In response to Ocean City’s concerns of a loss in revenue, Bennett said, “For 10 years we have worked with the Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association and with individual hotels in Ocean City that support this event and many of them still support the event … I don’t think there is any change in what we do and how we do it that is going to affect heads in beds.”

He explained that Delmarva Bike Week has moved to different locations throughout its existence. The first two years it was headquartered in Whaleyville, then the next five years it was held just outside of Ocean Pines and then the last three years it has been spread to multiple locations.

“I think the people that come on board with the event have been happy with their return and we hope to continue to do that,” Bennett said.

Sutherland had also said that he hopes OC Bike Fest and Delmarva Bike Week could support each other.

This week Bennett responded, saying,

“We had been talking to him back in the fall and obviously he has decided to go in a different direction. I think the chances of partnering with him is extremely small because what he is trying to do now is direct competition to our event and I don’t think Delmarva Bike Week would help promote a rival event. We’re going to help promote what we have going on and help promote the people that support our event.”

Bennett said that Delmarva Bike Week knows very few details about what Sutherland has planned.

“The dynamics of the location of the Inlet has to deal with is unknown to us,” Bennett said. “It is something that we have explored multiple times in the last 10 years and but not to the excess as he has done.”