The Bikers at the Beach event scheduled for July 26-28 has been canceled, with the promoter blaming a change in exhibitor rules at the Ocean Shores Convention Center for dealing a financial setback to another of his events that ultimately left his company without enough funds to produce this year’s motorcycle festival.
Puget Sound Trade Shows principal Dennis Irby sent an email Friday, April 26, to the Convention Center, the Ocean Shores Mayor, the Marketing Manager, City Council members and others announcing the cancellation. He gave the notification 90 days before the event, just in time to qualify for a refund of his company’s $1,000 deposit that secured the date at the venue.
Earlier this year, he canceled the Grays Harbor Expo, an annual home show type event that began 13 years ago.
In his email, Irby claimed that, due to new Convention Center regulations “we lost a national level sponsor for Expo. We had to pay high commissions to the company that acquired the lost sponsorship causing a substantial debt. The unfortunate loss of the new Sponsor forced our company to cancel Expo. … I later realized just how much Expo was our rock as it covered our year round overhead for all of our events.”
Irby told the North Coast News that the sponsor is a “very popular knife dealer that was with Expo 10 of our 13 years. They can be found at most fairs and festivals across the nation.”
The Rules & Regulations page of the Convention Center’s website states: “Knives or any other articles that have a blade or is sharply pointed must be displayed in a manner to limit access to and provide a safe environment for adults and children. If a question or dispute arises as to the level of protection provided by the vendor is considered adequate, the facility manager will make the final decision as to whether or not the vendor will be permitted to continue vending operation.”
His email said “a more feasible solution to vendors selling knives and ‘pointy objects’ was finally presented after 8 months, unfortunately the new rules and regulations contradicts that proposed solution. This rule will require more time to clarify what’s allowed and what’s not allowed. The new Convention Center rules and regulations does work good for meetings and most conventions, however, it is not at all feasible for any type of festival event. The Convention Center is extremely unique as it is not common for this type of venue to host Festival type events. A balance is needed, however, at this time, I don’t see that being possible in the very near future under current and future management and their leaders.”
He also wrote, “I did reach out to City Council to consider a strong look at the Cities (sic) Special Activities and Event Permit process along with the Convention Center’s process as I believe they should work hand in hand. I’ve seen several events leave due to miscommunication and uneducated management from the City and the City run Convention Center. In my request it was noted that my shows were heavily, negatively impacted from the current process and cancellation was possible. No action was taken by City Council to review or consider this request. “
Diane Solem, the city’s Marketing and Sales Manager, declined to comment Friday but said information on the situation likely will be available later this week.
“After being forced to sell my loved beach house to cover our losses with Expo and attempt to move Biker At The Beach forward we found ourselves still short on funds to produce the event,” Irby said.
His email concluded with the observation, “Producing events is a sick and twisted passion. There are very few events capable of making profit in Ocean Shores. The assumption that we have disposable funds available is simply not true. Our good years covered the down years. Though the last decade was a total wash, we loved every minute of seeing visitors come and enjoy themselves. We thank the businesses that supported and recognized our promotions to keep Ocean Shores on the map outside of the county to attract visitors especially when the City was near bankruptcy.”