Despite the threat of Hurricane Florence, hundreds of bikers and bike enthusiasts stayed committed to this year’s Ocean City BikeFest.
While Delmarva Bike Week was canceled due to the bad weather forecasts in the area, Ocean City adjusted its portion of the four-day event so that it could stay open, rain or shine.
The roar and rumble of motorcycles could be heard all week as bikers rode into town for the event, which kicked off Thursday morning. The event was moved to the Roland E. Powell Convention Center, from the inlet parking lot in Ocean City.
Although the crowds were considerably smaller this year because of the weather, the convention center’s parking lot on Saturday quickly filled up with motorcycles and bike enthusiasts. By noon, the lot was nearly full.
Chris Sparany and Sherry Burton, who were first-time attendees at OC BikeFest, said they were glad the weather held out so they could come. The couple came down from New Jersey via the ferry on Thursday and planned to go soak in the events all four days.
“We came down to have a good time and see all of the bikes,” said Sparany, who just bought a Harley.
When Maryland declared a state of emergency ahead of Hurricane Florence, many vendors pulled out of BikeFest. In previous years, the vendor tents filled up the length of the convention center’s parking lot. This year, though, the vendors took up about half of the space, with a few in the center.
As one of the only large corporate vendors to stay committ ed to BikeFest, Harley Davidson took over most of the first floor of the convention center. The building also held multiple concerts during the event.
John Paul, who was managing the vendor tent for The Perfect Wax, said business had been good so far, even with the smaller crowds. Paul said he goes to other car and motorcycle events in New Jersey, but he prefers Ocean City.
“I love coming to Ocean City for events, it’s a great location,” Paul said.
In addition to the merchandise, accessories and motorcycle services available at the event, BikeFest also hosts an extreme bike show every couple of hours during the day.
For the show, two stunt bikers enter a 14-foot steel ball and ride all around the inside – even upside-down – without colliding with one another. To increase the stakes, two women enter the steel ball and stand at the center while the bikers circle them.
To keep the whole event running smoothly, BikeFest has a team of volunteers wearing bright orange shirts, directing the crowds and answering questions.
Nicole and Kali Rummel, a mother-daughter duo, said they have been volunteering with other members of their family at OC BikeFest for the past few years.
“The weather has been great considering what the forecast said we would get,” Nicole said. “If we were at the inlet, we would’ve been rained on for sure.”
Other than a couple of instances of short rain showers, Nicole and Kali said, for the most part, the weather has been good.
Kali said her favorite part of BikeFest is getting to people watch and hear all of the bikes roar through town. She also loves going to the concerts.
“It’s a shame some people dropped out of the event, but there have been decent crowds so far,” Kali said. “Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves.”
Wide Open Custom, a Kansas-based vendor that sells motorcycle fairings, almost didn’t make it to Ocean City BikeFest this year because of the uncertain weather, said Toni Coppock, one of the employees.
Compared to last year when Wide Open Custom first attended the event as a vendor, the crowds were noticeably smaller, but there was still a decent turnout, Coppock said.
“We didn’t know if we could make the trek, but I’m glad we did,” Coppock said.
Minor coastal flooding is expected for the Delmarva area until Sunday morning as Hurricane Florence continues westward across the Carolinas. The National Weather Service’s Wakefield office replaced the region’s coastal flood warning with a coastal flood advisory until 6 a.m. Sunday.
Saturday’s weather in Ocean City was mostly cloudy and windy, with temperatures in the low 70s.
Many vendors and attendees said the overcast weather in Ocean City during the event was actually better than a normal sunny day because it wasn’t as hot.
Brenda Wheatley, who attended BikeFest with friends, said she goes to other motorcycle events in Myrtle Beach and Daytona Beach, but she enjoys this one in Ocean City because it’s smaller and more local for her.
“The people who didn’t come this year are missing out,” Wheatley said.
The Calvert Recorder
Calvert Hospice recently received a $1,000 donation from the Hell’s Angels Maryland Bike & Car Show, which was held in July at the Calvert County Fairgrounds in Prince Frederick.
The Hell’s Angels Nomads MD chapter organized the family-friendly event, which featured a car and bike show, local entertainment, special visitors from out of town, food vendors including Cutty’s BBQ and Captain Smith’s seafood, and a live broadcast from Hawkeye from 97.7’s The Rocket.
Special guest Rusty Coons from “Sons of Anarchy” attended and autographed photos.
Many members of the local chapter have been impacted by Calvert Hospice.
“Numerous members of our group have been touched by Calvert Hospice; this is why we chose Calvert Hospice,” event organizer John Beal said.
“Seventeen years ago, Calvert Hospice cared for our grandmother,” said Karen Horton, the wife of a Hell’s Angels Nomads MD chapter member. “The day she passed, I called you all and asked, ‘What do I do?’ You said there’s nothing else to do, you’ve done everything you’re supposed to; now it’s our turn to take over.”
Hell’s Angels Nomads MD chapter member Kevin Maloney helped with the groundbreaking and construction of the Burnett Calvert Hospice House.
The Hell’s Angels Nomads MD chapter is hoping to make the show an annual event, with next year’s event scheduled or July 13.