ATLANTIC BEACH, SC (WMBF) – BikeFest officially kicks off on Thursday, and folks in Atlantic Beach are busy preparing for the festival.
Atlantic Beach expects a crowd of more than 200,000 bikers this year, and when it comes to vendors, they hope for a better turnout than last year. They raised prices on vendor permits last year, but have lowered them again for this year's festival.
BikeFest is one of Atlantic Beach's revenue sources, bringing in around $60,000 last year. But that isn't enough to keep the town operating. A group of volunteers have now come together to put a new focus in with the other BikeFest activities.
Eddie Wright is one of those volunteers who wants to help.
"This particular year we decided to go above and beyond," said Wright.
Wright and a group of volunteers have decided to use this weekend, when thousands of people are in Atlantic Beach, to raise money for the town.
"It's really just small scale, just souvenirs and stuff like that", explained Wright.
But small is better than nothing at all, when it comes to helping the town hand over the cash to handle it's debt and to get ready for an audit.
"Every penny counts," said Wright. "The town basically operates on a zero budget in terms of being able to operate every year."
It's going to take plenty of pennies to get there, since Interim Town Manager Linda Cheatham says the audit is expected to cost up to $50,000. So along with BikeFest, efforts like this matter.
"It certainly is an important one and it's going to contribute to the town's budget," said Cheatham.
Bikers agree they might be the ones to come together and pitch in.
Darryl Horton, a biker from Jacksonville, FL agreed, saying, "I expect bikers come here to spend a little money."
Even though this grassroots effort may be small, those involved hope it will have a big effect.
Wright said his hope is "to communicate that kind of hope for Atlantic Beach, so people who don't live here or often hear negative things about it, they will have an opportunity to see that there are people who are trying to make this town a success."
This fundraising effort is considered a start, and there are plans for more large-scale fundraising efforts in the future.
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