Atlantic Beach Election Could Change Course of Bikefest

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An election today in Atlantic Beach, S.C., could have a big impact on the future of Bikefest.

Three seats on the Town Council are up for grabs in the election today in the tiny town adjacent to Myrtle Beach. The two incumbents, Josephine Isom and Charlene Taylor, support the annual rally, while the only challenger on the slate, Paul Curry, has been a vocal opponent, according to the Myrtle Beach Sun-News.

The annual Memorial Day rally is a constant subject of controversy. Opponents complain about noise, public consumption of alcohol, vendors selling bogus goods and the event’s intrusion on locals. Supporters say the town needs the tax revenue the event generates and that the area should host more events.

Taylor supports Bikefest as it is; Curry wants it scaled down, and Isom splits the difference.

"We need to revamp it; we probably need to do something else with it, but just to say a Bikefest is off limits, no, we do not need to do that," she told voters recently.

Recent events have the motorcycle community watching the area anxiously. The Myrtle Beach City Council passed a raft of biker-unfriendly ordinances after a shooing during the rally there in 2008. The new rules prompted the local Harley-Davidson dealers group to move their really to North Carolina. Other communities around Myrtle Beach have considered similar plans to push bike rallies out of the area.

Today’s vote takes place as Atlantic Beach’s mayor awaits trial related to a hit-and-run accident last year. S.C. Gov. Mark Sandford suspended Retha Pierce until she is acquitted or convicted.

At the same time, the trial of the man accused of shooting Coastal Carolina University student Corey Brooks during the 2007 Myrtle Beach rally is playing out in local courts.

Posted by Holly Wagner