Atlantic Beach aims to boost attendance for Bikefest 2014

The town of Atlantic Beach is making plans to try to attract a bigger crowd to this year's Memorial Day Bikefest.

Mayor Jake Evans says town leaders believe last year's version of the street festival wasn't quite up to what it used to be, so they are looking at making a few changes this year, including an attempt to attract more vendors.

On Monday town council passed an ordinance on first reading that would lower vendor permit fees and expand the area where Bikefest will operate.

Town manager William Booker says retail vendor fees that in past years ranged from $900 to $1,100 dollars will now be in the range of $550 to $850.

Those fees could be discounted by an additional $100, if vendors pay before May 1.

Also, Bikefest has always been centered around the town's 30th Avenue South, but this year Booker says some activities will expand to 31st Avenue.

Evans says the changes are intended to be the start for something of a comeback for the festival.

"A lot of times when things kind of slide down we don't get them back in one year, so this is just the first year of us trying to progress to get it back where it was," Evans said.

Bikefest has long been one of the town's major sources of income, Evans says, and it will probably remain so until the town can "get on the road to development" and establish other forms of revenue.

Booker suggested there might be more Bikefest changes to come. He says there will be a greater variety of entertainment and more family entertainment this year.

Town council directed Evans to set up a Bikefest committee that could come up with more changes and Booker says the ordinance that passed Monday may be amended on second reading.

The ordinance sets the dates for this year's Bikefest to be Friday, May 23 through Monday, May 26.