Arcadia Bike Fest in March 2019

A photo of downtown Arcadia during the March 2019 Arcadia Bike Fest event.

ARCADIA — Sunny skies are expected for Saturday, but there will be some thunder when thousands of bikers ride into downtown Arcadia for the fall Arcadia Bike Fest, located on the city’s Historic Oak Street.

It’s only the third biannual event and organizers, Arcadia Main Street, are expecting around 8,000 bikers to attend the family-friendly event.

That’s an estimated 2,000 more people than the March 2019 event.

“We’re growing every event,” said Allison Thorpe, executive director for Arcadia Main Street, a nonprofit organization formed to enhance the downtown area.

Word spread fast since the first Arcadia Bike Fest in November 2018.

“We’ve had motorcyclists from all over Florida,” Thorpe said. “For this year’s event (just as with previous events), we will have people from Charlotte, Dade and Sarasota counties. We’ve had bikers from Fort Lauderdale, Kissimmee ... and even as far north as Jacksonville and sometimes beyond.”

The event kicks off at 9 a.m. and runs until 5 p.m. Saturday featuring live music, food trucks and almost 60 vendors, ranging from food to beer, to merchandise and more.

BIKE FESTS BRING PEOPLE

Motorcyclist Wayne Metcalf is the Charlotte County representative of the Christian Motorcycle Association. He and his wife, along with their Son Chasers Chapter of the CMA, have attended and worked all three Arcadia Bike Fest events.

“Motorcycle events just bring people,” Metcalf said. “And people just love them. Arcadia is right in the middle of everything and that’s why they attract so many motorcyclists.”

The city’s historic nature is also a major attraction for motorcyclists, according to Metcalf.

“A lot of our people when they aren’t working our booth — as CMA, we bring Jesus to the bikers — the first thing they do is start shopping all the (antique) stores downtown,” Metcalf said. “I look for this one to be bigger than all the others. The people in Arcadia are just genuine, good, honest, hard-working people and we really look forward to going there.”

BIKE FESTS BOOST LOCAL BUSINESS

Since its start, the Arcadia Bike Fest has become a major benefit for local businesses.

“It brings a lot of energy to the street,” said Rhonda Allegretto, owner of Arcadia Seas, an antique shop on the corner of West Oak Street and Polk Street in the downtown area. “Bike Fest brings people to this town that have driven through but really never stopped.”

Wheeler’s Cafe on South Monroe Avenue, opened in 1929, is a staple for breakfast, lunch and pies in downtown Arcadia but even for them, the Bike Fest boost in business was overwhelming.

“We were busy from the moment we opened our doors (at 6 a.m.),” said Debbie Browning, Wheeler’s co-owner. “People were waiting outside ... we even ran out of food to serve.”

BIKE FESTS BRING THE NOISE (BUT IN A GOOD WAY)

“There are tons of people (at Bike Fest),” said Mallory Doran of Arcadia. “There is music and so much creativity and uniqueness with the different things vendors offer and the handmade goods. You can hear the music miles away and it draws in a crowd ... you want to come in and hang out.”

Returning this fall is the Full Throttle Magazine 10-Class Bike Show, also featured at the March event.

“The March show was one of the best bike shows they have had,” Thorpe said, “and they are coming back again this year. They have over 100 bikes that sign up for their bike show.”

The bike show runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Four bands will also be featured as well as a DJ, among all the vendors.

“We will have entertainment (up and down) the street,” Thorpe said. “People crave history (like we have in Arcadia); it makes them feel grounded. We are at the crossroads of Highway 17 and Highway 70. A lot of people see our town. Bike Fest gives them a reason to stick around.”

For more information go to arcadiamainstreet.com.

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