Attendance for National Bikers Roundup lower than expected

Monday, August 9, 2010 | 6:28 p.m. CDT; updated 7:50 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, August 10, 2010

COLUMBIA — The National Bikers Roundup did not bring as many bikers as anticipated, but authorities still called the event a success.

Before the roundup began, a forecast by the Columbia Convention and Visitors Bureau pegged the expected attendance at around 35,000, which executive director Lorah Steiner called a conservative estimate in a previous Missourian article.

With the roundup now concluded, the bureau estimates 25,000 came to Columbia, Steiner said.

Crowd estimates from the Boone County Sheriff's Department for the event were significantly lower. Sheriff Dwayne Carey estimated that the roundup brought 15,000 to 18,000 people a night to the Boone County Fairgrounds at its peak. Carey admitted attendance counting is an inexact art but said he felt "pretty good" about the department's estimate.

"I heard ridiculous numbers like 50,000, 25,000, but in reality it was much lower than that," he said.

The department said the fairgrounds saw an average of 8,000 visitors during the daytime and that 8,000 to 9,000 camped on the fairgrounds each night.

Steiner said the roundup injected $6 million into the local economy, which she said the visitor's bureau had previously called the minimum amount expected. To get the $6 million, she used a formula based on the number of occupied rooms in hotels within a 45-mile radius of Columbia.

Steiner said every hotel was full as of the Monday before the roundup.

The number of people at the roundup might have been fewer than expected, but Steiner said it still resulted in a nice economic boost for the city and beat expectations in other ways.

"I think the roundup divested a lot of people of stereotypes," Steiner said.

Steiner said there was "almost a hysteria" about the roundup coming to town; now she is hearing about how the bikers were a great group of people. "I think things went incredibly well," she said.

"I was really pleased with how it went," Carey said. "Ninety-nine percent of these folks are great people ... it was the 1 percent that we planned for."

Carey said the department began security preparations in February and didn't run into any surprises when the event finally came to town. "We kinda had it nailed down beforehand," he said.

Jill Wieneke, public information officer for the Columbia Police Department, said the roundup caused few problems. A coordinated effort between the Police Department and the Sheriff's Department allowed the agencies to funnel traffic into and out of the fairgrounds with no major problems.

Despite the large number of motorcycles present on roads around the city, no injury accidents were reported that involved the bikers, Wieneke said. Noise also didn't appear to be as big a problem as expected: Columbia police received about five noise complaints between Thursday and Sunday from residents within the city limits.

Although the National Bikers Roundup has packed up and hit the road, Columbia residents can expect more bikes in the near future. The city is hosting another motorcycle rally on Aug. 26-28 as the 2010 Missouri State H.O.G. (Harley Owners Group) Rally comes to town.

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Gerald Clouser August 11, 2010 | 9:41 a.m.

In the motorcycle world, my name is "45" on the Island. I ride a yellow 94 H/D Softail named "Sonshine". Some may have seen a tired looking old black man on a real fly yellow and white H/D, that would be me. To the sheriff and security people at the fairgrounds I was one of those guys in the back under the tree on the hill. You may remember we were offering pigfeet, Seagram's gin and Colt 45 Malt Liquor to any one crazy enough to join us (also water since it was 150 degrees under that tree). I left heading back to Texas on Fri. morning. I had been in Columbia since Mon. I had a room at the Regency downtown. I was not in the room much because I did not want to miss any fun, action or foolishness that might happen at the NBR event. My stay in Columbia was great! The room was great, better really than home. And I did not have to put the bed in front of the door to keep someone from coming in uninvited. I have slept in places like that on the road. It's just part of the motorcycle life. I also have slept outdoors and on my scooter. Anyway, to the point. Columbia welcomed me from the jump. The people at the stores and restaurants welcomed me. The food was good, plenteous and reasonably priced. I live in Galveston, TX, a tourist town, so I know about hospitality, etc. The police and sheriff were good and even-handed. I hope Fri. and Sat. nights were not off the chain as at previous round-ups. Columbia is a nice, clean town, the park on Broadway was my personal retreat. An articulate homeless guy really gave me the guided tour and touted Columbia's many benefits. We both concurred. In a word Thanks, Columbia, MO. God willing we will meet again.
"45" on the Island

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