At Tuesday’s TDC meeting, the big guns of Thunder Beach approached the board asking to move their Autumn Rally to Columbus Day Weekend.
Currently, the rally is held on the first weekend in October. Reason for wanting to change the date were stated as follows:
- Ability to confirm more Vendors presence
- More Vendors = more attendants
- More Attendants = boost in Panama City Beach’s economy
While the TDC acknowledges the potential boost in revenue, the board did have multiple concerns over allowing the date change to take place:
- The Seafood Festival currently holds the date for Columbus Day Weekend
- The festival is scheduled to coincide with the Fall Break schedules of kids
- Families may not want to visit while Thunder Beach is happening
- The businesses that don’t prosper from Thunder Beach, would suffer from the loss of families opting not to come
Joe and Rich, both stated clear, concise reasons for wanting to move the Autumn Rally date, with the main point of interest being that with the date change, Thunder Beach would be able to solidify more vendors, which in turn brings more bikers, which of course, heightens revenue for merchants, lodging and as a whole- the majority of businesses in the Panama City Beach area. They cited that by changing the date to Columbus Day weekend, it frees up scheduling conflicts with vendors and events on a national scale.
Currently, the Autumn Rally is scheduled right after the popular West Coast event, Street Vibrations in Reno, NV and right before Daytona’s Biketoberfest. If you consider the national scheduling of these events, it puts the vendors in a position of having to choose which event they can commit to, and since the Autumn event falls smack in the middle of two major rallys, Vendors are opting to by-pass Thunder Beach. Leaving our Panama City Beach event with few vendors, and less appeal for the event’s two-wheeled enthusiast.
The idea behind moving the date to Columbus Day, is an interesting one. Thunder Beach is a solid event for the economy, participants have typically proven to be well-behaved, respectful and money spending. However, as Mayor Gayle Oberst thoughtfully pointed out, Panama City Beach is composed of both Businesses and Families.
The coveted Columbus Day Weekend currently plays host to the family friendly Seafood Festival. It’s a time when parents can capitalize on kid’s schools Fall Break time, and possibly squeeze in one last outing before buckling down for the coming winter.
That’s the type of welcoming environment the TDC is worried about losing, with the question being if they moved the Seafood Festival (to allow Thunder Beach use of Columbus Day Weekend) would the city be potentially setting themselves up to lose its family friendly fall tourism nitch? The two events are typically polar opposites of each other, with families choosing to vacation or visit PCB when it’s not packed with Bikers, essentially making it unlikely the two events could share the same weekend.
Overall, the TDC volleyed back and forth with Thunder Beach, both sides able to see the potential of hosting the rally during the long weekend, yet the TDC Board values the family friendly events the city host through out the Fall.
In the end, the Tourist Development Council didn’t support moving the date of the rally. Concerns of families being deterred from coming during the “fall-break” week and the prospects of the Seafood Festival becoming a stable stake for the fall tourism season reinforced that decision. For now, the dates will stay the same.
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