DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The sound of rumbling engines is once again filling the streets of Daytona Beach with Thursday officially kicking off the 30th annual Biketoberfest.
The four-day event typically brings hundreds of thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts to the World’s Most Famous Beach, but this year, things could look a bit different though with the community still cleaning up after the hurricane.
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“You’ll see a heavier presence in the concentrated area of the event which will be the Main Street venue and the MMB venue,” Daytona Beach Police Chief Jakari Young said.
The bars and restaurants on Main Street didn’t have a lot of damage and the owners said they’re ready to bring in visitors, but hotels nearby where a lot of bikers were supposed to stay have had to cancel a majority of their bookings due to damage.
“Just this month alone, I had to cancel about a million dollars worth of revenue,” said Jonathan Abrahams, owner of The Plaza Resort.
He said they just reopened a couple days ago, but only for 30% of their rooms.
“We’re doing demolition to 175 to 180 guest rooms, and on top of that, we’re doing thermal imaging to our roofs, doing repairs on our roofs and our decks at this current stage,” he said.
Abrahams is not alone. Volusia’s Lodging and Hospitality Association said many hotels along A1A are only able to open 30 to 50% of their rooms. Davis said many visitors who had bookings canceled were able to find rooms in other parts of the county.
“We will not be entirely open with every room, but every room we possibly can will be available for Biketoberfest,” said association President Bob Davis.
Abrahams said what is important this weekend is getting employees back in the door so they can make money.
“We have 150 to 200 employees that are employed here at this resort, The Plaza Resort, and a lot of these employees were directly affected by the hurricanes,” he said, “Some people don’t want to see this event happen, but at the end of the day, if this event happens, then there’s more people that are employed and there’s more tax dollars that are being generated.”
Jakari said the event will be important for not only boosting revenue in the Daytona Beach community, but boosting the mood.
“The hurricane drastically effected a large portion of the city, but as far as the core area for the event, the hurricane did not have any lasting effects as far as where most of the patrons will be,” he said.
This isn’t the first Biketoberfest to come after a storm: in 2016 Hurricane Matthew hit a week before the event.
For other businesses, the sound of the engines is one of the first signs of normalcy returning.
“I’m optimistic. I’m setting up as though it’s going to be, I’m going to be ready one way or the other,” said Bobby Honeycutt, owner of Froggy’s Saloon, “Even with the hurricane, people are reporting activities up!”
Visitors traveling in from all over the country said they’re ready to keep the businesses going.
“The area needs the revenue, they need the support and the help,” said Kevin Dunmire from New York, “I come a couple days before it starts, stay a couple days after. It’s just a good time.”
Biketoberfest officially runs Oct. 13-16.
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