© Mike Carson/Journal Pioneer
Bikers from across North America will be Summerside and Kensington, too, in 2014 for the eighth annual Atlanticade Motorcycle Festival.
SUMMERSIDE — Atlanticade 2014 was a success, but now the challenge is reaching an agreement to keep the international motorcycle event in Summerside, says organizer Dale Hicks.
“We had close to 3,000 participants and, out of those, about 15 per cent of them were from the Summerside area,” Hicks said in an interview from New Brunswick.
He said the other 85 per cent came from outside the Summerside area.
The 2014 numbers were ahead of 2013 and on a par with 2012.
“It depends on the weather,” he added.
“These figures go back to the first year we were there, when the total off-Island participation was about 65 per cent. Last year, it was almost a 50-50 split because the weather kept the New Brunswick and Nova Scotia crowd away. Normally, it’s about 65 per cent off-Island and 35 per cent on-Island.”
Organizers were happy with this year’s turnout, noting there were participants from across the country and beyond.
“We had people from 10 provinces, one territory and 12 states. We look at what we call outside the Maritimes and that was about 15 per cent.”
Hicks said data collected from the event has gone to UPEI’s tourism and research centre.
“They have an agreement with Tourism P.E.I. to do a study,” he added.
“They sent out a survey a couple of weeks ago. They’re in the process of gathering the responses to put together a report to analyze the economic impact of it.”
He doesn’t have any hard figures from the 2014 event in relation to its economic impact on the city and province, adding it is usually between $1 million and $2 million.
The three-year contract between Atlanticade and the City of Summerside ended this year and negotiations for a new deal will begin in the fall.
Hicks has been pleased with the partnership that has developed between the city and the event, but other resources need to be sourced to keep Atlanticade on the Island.
“The one area that we have fallen down on is corporate sponsorship,” he said. “That’s because it’s difficult when you’re on this side of the bridge (in New Brunswick). You don’t know who the players are in businesses over there (on P.E.I.), and it’s tough to line up to go see them.
“One of thing we’re going to have to look at is getting a sponsorship committee in place over there that can make some contacts and try and get more corporate sponsorship for the event.”
Hicks said the Atlanticade is more than just a Summerside event, adding its impact is Island wide, something the provincial government has to realize.
He said it’s the province that has to step up at the end of the day.
“The province sits down and says, ‘What’s Summerside doing for you? We’ll match it.’ I’m sitting back and saying when people are out gassing up in Charlottetown, or having a meal in Charlottetown or they’re at the Tim Hortons in Cavendish or they’re at North Cape at the windmills ... that’s not impacting Summerside. That money that is being generated in tax revenue is going back to the province, not to Summerside.
“My point to the province is yes, whatever Summerside is doing, you guys should be doubling that, not matching it. It has an impact right across the province.”
The organizing committee has received emails and Facebook messages from some of the participants saying they spend extra time on P.E.I. beyond Atlanticade.
Others made return trips to the Island after Atlanticade.