May Bike Rallies Issue Rises Again

May Bike Rallies Issue Rises Again

By Paul Gable

The May bike rallies were a topic of discussion during the Horry County Public Safety Committee meeting Thursday when county Public Safety Director Paul Whitten disclosed the county lost approximately $190,000 policing the two rallies this year.

The amount of the loss drew raised eyebrows from several committee members who called for a full discussion before county council.

That the bike rallies cost the county money should be no surprise after the contentious debate over vendor permits earlier this year.

Starting with reducing permit days, working through reduced permit fees and a final decision to leave things alone, just before the Harley rally was scheduled to begin, caused much confusion among biker enthusiasts.

While permits remained the same this year, there were considerably less vendors who attended the rally, leaving a shortfall in county revenue.

According to Whitten, the county lost approximately $75,000 on the Harley Davidson rally and approximately $115,000 on the Atlantic Beach bike rally.

Most of the county’s bike rally revenue comes from the Harley rally as vendor permits sold by the county for the Atlantic Beach rally range from several to none each year. Virtually all of the vendor permits for the Atlantic Beach rally are sold by the town.

Overtures to raise the permit fee by the county were raised Thursday as a means of closing the shortfall. However, such a move will probably only further reduce the number of vendors attending the rally and not result in added revenue.

A small, but vocal group of local residents has been trying to completely eliminate the May bike rallies for several years. Among other things, they believe eliminating vendors will eliminate the rallies.

The group was successful in virtually eliminating rally participation in Myrtle Beach, but participation in unincorporated areas of the county has remained strong.

Many small hotels and other businesses rely on income from the rallies to have a successful year while most of the annual revenue to Atlantic Beach businesses comes from its Memorial Day Bikefest.

The city of Myrtle Beach attempts to replace lost May revenue through its promotion of Veterans Appreciation Days and Coastal Uncorked have failed miserably.

It remains to be seen what, if any, changes will be proposed to full council, but the annual bike rally debate seems ready to erupt again.


  1. The town harrasses the bikers at the lead of those trying to crush it to the point that vendors don’t know if they can show up or not. THEN they wonder why so few show up when they make a final decision less than a few weeks from the start of the rallies? Oof COURSE they lost revenue because the vendors can’t SUDDENLY agree to come after they have made other arrangments to be other places while MB was in “limbo”. No, the fault of this shortfall is not the bike rally but rather is the community that allowed the small vocal group to create the problem in the first place. I say send THEM the bill for the shortfall and let ALL know WELL IN ADVANCE that the Harley rally will continue so that vendors can plan appropriately. Further, if no revenues come from the “crotch rocket” weekend regardless of notice, then cancel that one altogether. MB property owner.

  2. Paul, you may not be aware, there is a new TV series being produced called “Ride On America”, the series is pro motorcycle, it follows a host around the country as he travels to motorcycle events and other things.
    They filmed part of their promo here in Myrtle Beach but what I heard is since they did not feel bikers were welcome here they don’t plan to include Myrtle Beach in the final episodes. So this is yet another way Myrtle Beach has missed exposure.
    Their trailer is here:

  3. I guess no one on County Council is smart enough to figure out how much revenue came to the county as a result of sales and lodging taxes paid by the visiting bikers.

  4. The worst part of all of this: Horry County Council Chairman TOM RICE was the RADICAL LEADER and FANATICAL SPOKESMAN for the “anti-biker” movement.

    Some people say it all started with Myrtle Beach City Council’s knee-jerk actions, which in turn influenced Horry County’s ill-fated actions – but TOM RICE and the radicals he lead are the ones who DEMANDED and BULLIED the Myrtle Beach Council to act!

    TOM RICE is the MAIN reason we have this dilemma – it’s HIS fault – yet he sits there quietly while this is discussed among council members?