ATLANTIC BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Atlantic Beach's Bike Fest is the town's biggest money-maker of the year, and so for a financially struggling town with mounting debt, it's important for town leaders to get the event back into the black.
Atlantic Beach town council members passed the first reading of an ordinance to lower vendor permit fees and to expand Bike Fest to two streets: 30th and 31st Avenue South.
According to the Town Manager William Booker, 31st Avenue South will be used for more entertainment venues to set up. Almost all of the vendors will be placed on 30th Avenue South.
The retail vendor fees in the past were $900 to $1,100. Now if this passes, it will cost vendors from $550 to $850. Past fees for food vendors were anywhere from $1,200 to $2,100. It's proposed it would cost $800 to $1,100 with the changes. Also the fees could be cut by an additional $100 if vendors pay before May 1st.
Booker said there has been interested merchants wanting to purchase a vendor permit, but nothing can be done until a final ordinance is set by council members. According to Mayor Jake Evans, the second reading on the Bike Fest changes will happen no later than March 3.
"We need to try and do something to get them back, even if it doesn't happen over night or this year. We are going to be on a gradually trying to get them back here," explained Mayor Evans.
A Bike Fest analysis was conducted over the last five years. It showed the highest profit the town netted in revenue was $63,000 back in 2011.
Since that time, Mayor Evans said the revenue from the event has been on a steady decline.
Long-time resident Rosa Stanley said she is glad to hear the council is talking about lowing the cost for vendors, adding, "It needs to be cut down so the people can come and enjoy themselves and try to make a little bit of money."
Stephanie Simmons agrees with Stanley; she has been a vendor during Bike Fest. "I think they should lower the prices because it just got to be too high to start with," she said.
Mayor Evans wants vendors to know the town is going to work with them, not against them. Mayor Evans is looking to set up a Bike Fest committee in the coming weeks.
Bike Fest has been set for Friday, May 23rd through Monday, May 26th.