“The Halifax Advertising Authority and Conventions Visitors’ Bureau is instructed (mandated) by the Daytona Beach City Commission to present an exact plan for Biketoberfest for their approval, and has been for the past 29 years.
The past six months the CVB has a Biketoberfest committee who sits with Jim Morris, the assistant city manager (and an attorney) and many officials of the city, including code enforcement, law enforcement, traffic, and sheriff’s department. At these meetings Morris and other officials go through all requests. During these workshops most are corrected, and a few are denied. They cover such items as serving food, parking and space.
Morris then presents this package to the City Commission for its approval. This package is neither affirmative nor a negative as to Bikertoberfest. This is requested by the Daytona Beach City Commission. The hospitality industry is neither suggesting nor discounting the Bikertoberfest event — it is what is required!
The hospitality industry kindly asks the elected officials to consider requesting our local Health Department officials for their expertise on this event before coming to a decision. We above all want to ensure a safe event for our local citizens, our tourists and all 51,000 employed in hospitality in Volusia County. We understand that there are certain procedures in place — masks and social distancing — but not all of Volusia County requires this.
Our top priority is to keep everyone safe.”
–Bob Davis, Daytona Beach Shores, CEO of the Volusia County Lodging and Hospitality Association, The Daytona Beach News-Journal, Letters to the Editor, “Biketoberfest is a matter of procedure,” Monday, August 10, 2020
In his recent letter to the editor, Mr. Davis provided a behind-the-scenes look at the process – and the role of the Daytona Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau – in developing the annual Biketoberfest Master Plan.
I thought it was also a valiant attempt to protect the CVB’s Biketoberfest Committee from being labeled the “bad guy” when some yet-to-be-determined entity finally makes the call to cancel the popular event – or the City of Daytona Beach simply refuses to issue the life-sustaining special event permits required for success.
Unfortunately, the official speculation and lack of leadership on this important issue has left area businesses – and potentially thousands of visitors – totally confused regarding the ultimate fate of the event.
Trust me, Bob, the Volusia County Health Department is not going to help.
If we have learned anything during this pandemic – providing timely public health information to policymakers when it matters most is clearly outside their wheelhouse.
So, the question remains: It is mid-August and the clock is ticking – are we having Biketoberfest or aren’t we?
Last week, The Daytona Beach News-Journal reported that Biketoberfest 2020 “…looks like it’s a no go unless a solid safety plan to protect participants from the coronavirus can be created.”
In my view, creating an acceptable safety plan, one that would cover the variety of venues and entertainment options available to Biketoberfest participants, is an increasingly difficult proposition, considering that Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick “Il Duce” Henry recently telegraphed his thoughts on the viability of the event:
“It would be a tall order for them to offer something I would support.”
Other members of the City Commission expressed similar concerns, making it highly unlikely that the annual event – which many area businesses rely on to ensure their survival – will take place in a form recognizable to repeat visitors.
But who the hell knows?
Recently, the News-Journal reported, “Approval of the Biketoberfest plan would require an exemption to the city’s Local State of Emergency and Executive Order, which currently prohibits large gatherings. An exception was recently made to allow concerts at the Bandshell, but only after the organizer of that event worked closely with city officials to develop a strict safety plan.”
Again – with “exceptions,” accommodations, and approvals granted for favored events and sponsors – while other venues and businesses receive official warnings from City Hall – the intent of the rules and the fate of Biketoberfest remain clear as mud. . .
Adding to the confusion was a follow-up article in the News-Journal wherein Mayor Henry said “deliberations” are ongoing:
“It remains for me a tall order, but we will see,” he said. “You have to be open as government to hear and respond accordingly. It’s a challenging time for businesses and we certainly respect that.”
“We will see?” When?
Then, Commissioner Rob Gilliland sent murky mixed signals when it was reported, “…Gilliland thinks it is unlikely that the commission ultimately will approve the Biketoberfest permits, given the state of the pandemic this summer. At the same time, he would like to see planning continue, to be prepared if the spread starts to slow in the fall.”
These convoluted maybe-maybe not “deliberations” have left many businesses who depend on robust special events scratching their heads.
Do they purchase stock, engage outside vendors, sign bands and entertainment, hire security, obtain PPE, tool up for food service, plan for parking, arrange for increased staffing, prepare event plans, etc., etc. – all of which is an incredibly expensive undertaking even during a good year.
It appears our ‘powers that be’ are either unwilling, or unable, to make a decision during an election cycle when the life expectancy of struggling Main Street area businesses are being called into question on the front page of the newspaper.
As usual, confusion reigns supreme. . .
As this week’s pared-down motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota proved – in just two-months, thousands of bikers are going to show up on our sandy doorstep, regardless of what the City of Daytona Beach decides – or doesn’t.
In spite of the pending blame game over who killed this year’s lucrative special event – the natural result of the political weakness and scarcity of elected leadership that defines the Halifax area – someone better be prepared to deal with it. . .