Sh*t hits the fan for local bike night event

by on May 16, 2011
in Events

Big debate going on here locally this week – what started out as a great new free “bike night” event in Des Moines (including classic cars/hot rods) is embroiled in a PR controversy because they have added a mandatory $5 fee to be collected at the gate that is supposed to be exchangeable for food or beverages on-site.

The explanation from organizers is that this is not a fee to attend the event – it’s just a way to ensure that everyone buys something from the concession stands, which “keeps the event free.”

But, the thing is – the $5 is mandatory for everyone over the age of 12. So, you can’t attend the “free” event unless you pay $5 at the gate for food/drinks you may or may not want. To me, that makes the event no longer free, because you can’t attend without paying. (Unless you are 12 and under – but, last time I checked, that age group is not really able to bring bikes and cars to a show… well maybe Big Wheels and Barbie Jeeps, but I digress…)

Overall I think the organizers of this event would’ve been far better off just admitting that they’re implementing a cover charge, and let the chips fall where they may. Trying to set it up (or “spin it,” for you cynics) as a “mandatory coupon” just doesn’t work.

Another problem for this event: parking was limited last week to just a few streets on our very large state fairgrounds, where before it had been more broadly spread out. Now, the bikes are forced to park 3 and 4 columns deep along one main street with the only overflow being a single column down a side street. If your bike is parked on that main street along the curb, you’re there for the duration whether you want to be or not because there’s no way to get out with all the bikes parked in front of you.

Between this and the spin over the cover charge issue, we probably won’t go back to the event any time soon. And that’s too bad, because it was a neat opportunity to see lots of great vehicles!

What are your thoughts? Do you pay to attend “bike night” events? Do you purchase food and drink from the vendors that are present? If you’re local, what are your plans for attending this event? (If you represent this event, my facts – and my opinion – are based on what I’ve read on your Facebook page and on your printed material. Do tell me if I’ve mis-represented your case!)

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13 Responses to “Sh*t hits the fan for local bike night event”
  1. Shirley says:

    Janet, I’m hugely disappointed in this mandatory coupon Sh*t!! A free event is a free event and with the number of free bike nites around I think they are cutting their own throats! I’m guessing nearly everyone spends more than $5 on food and/or drink while there. Too bad that they are intent on ruining a great thing.

  2. Pam says:

    Sounds like a boat-load of poor planning!! I haven’t experienced a bike event yet, but if it says free I’d expect free! I’m naive like that!!

  3. wendyvee says:

    I agree with you …. that’s no way to run a popsicle stand :)

    If the events are a success, then vendors will reap the rewards. Forcing people to exchange $ for vouchers seems like a really good way to see a cool event die a pretty quick death.

  4. Della says:

    oh boy! I hope it’s okay to write you here!! This really hit a nerve with me. Free my ass! I decided last week I would boycott. I heard the rumor while I was there about the “parking charge” and I talked to the people in the pop up tent that were selling tshirts and had information. I quizzed them on the reasoning behind this, but my questions weren’t answered to MY satisfaction. They said they wanted to ensure the vendors were making money. I can tell you that I waited in line for lemonade for 15 minutes because they ran out of stuff. I can tell you that it was HOT last week and everyone was eating and drinking all kinds of stuff. So I’m not buying that story. They also told me they needed to pay the band. Okay, why not put that to a vote, because I couldn’t even hear the band and the only way you could is if you were right in front of them. which…really is not the point of bike nights. Especially there, because like you said, the bikes are all down the street so if you are out looking at those you won’t hear the band anyway. I would think some music streaming over the speakers would suffice. Its not like Indianola where its all confined to one block. Speaking of Indianola, I would think it would be comparable to them charging at Indianola. It’s insane.
    As in Indianola, I patronize the vendors. It is a little different because I know it is the city that has the liquor license to that deal. Ultimately it’s the vendor’s decision to be there or not if they aren’t making money, don’t come. (but this is where I don’t know the set up between the fair and the vendors)
    I really, truly want to understand. I was so excited last week, since it was my first time there, it was great and I loved it-like Indianola every week! But I doubt I will go until I get a better understanding. Because to me it looks like they are looking to make a buck off of us and I’m not okay with that. And really, if that is the case, then be honest about it.
    I’d rather put $5 in my tank and drive around.

  5. Cassie Smith says:

    I am with everyone else. They are cutting there own throats. It cost %3.00 for a little bottle of water. $5.00 for a hot dog and $6.00 for a brat.. I know I will not be attending anymore until they do away with the fee’s. I think it will fail.

  6. Holly Novelli says:

    Yes, I think they’ve made a very poor decision to sell a $5 coupon that can be exchanged for food & drink. We’ve attended every week and enjoyed ourselves. It was a great event but I don’t agree with their decision. Alot of people don’t choose to eat at bike night for one reason or another. We do occasionally and usually have a couple of drinks. But, there are many bike nights throughout the city and this is the first that has ever charged! Obviously the reason behind this is that the vendors aren’t making the money they thought they would. I’m not sure that we will be attending in the future and will go back to Thursday being the main bike night for us!

  7. Jennifer says:

    I can’t imagine what a cluster it’s going to be trying to collect 5.00 a person as people come in the gate. The group I rode with last week had 15 bikes in the pack.. it was hard enough to just get turned and in the gate…let alone trying to stop get out wallets, and pay money. The place was PACKED and we had to park in front of other rows of bikes, which pissed them off because how were they supposed to get out?
    I know several people that will not being going back until it’s free to get in. The marina bike night is free, Trophys bike night is free…why would they think they could charge 5.00 a person and think we’d all still show up? I hope it bites them in the ass and the event tanks. That will teach them to be greedy.

  8. Tim says:

    Hope the ladies here won’t mind a member of the male gender chiming in. I really enjoy reading Biker Chick News and have the utmost respect for ladies who ride. Having said that, I’m in total agreement with all the other comments here. I think probably 90% or more of those who attend bike nights spend more than a little money on food and drinks. This little “coupon exchange” stunt to gain admittance to the “free” event kept me from going tonight based on principle, not the 5 bucks! I think the parking situation will probably work itself out real soon on it’s own. I, for one, probably won’t need a parking spot again…..

  9. Brian says:

    Do you think the use of the fairgrounds is free??? Choose to go or not, the vendors will choose to go or not based on whether they make enough. They pay to be there as well a VERY hefty fee based on percentage of gross sales. If most people feel like you do, then the event will fail, but who loses?

  10. Della says:

    Brian, I think that’s we are all trying to understand…is WHY, at least that’s my deal with it.
    Whomever chose to start this deal knew there was a fee for the fairgrounds. I know a LITTLE more information now, but only enugh to make me dangerous! (not enough to make an educated statement).
    I’m dying to know how it went last night…did anyone go? I thought about the gate thing too.
    Well put Tim. Gosh, I really hate it when someone writes exactly what I meant to say.
    I love this discussion. I sure hope we find out how it went for them last night.
    How many bikes do you suppose were there last week? and to get $5 from each?

  11. Corn Dog says:

    Della, I gather from the Facebook page that it was a banner night, LOTS of folks there. That’s good for them, if people are willing to pay it. I’m very curious to know how the line-up at the gate was – were people out on Grand Ave, waiting to get it while they stopped each bike for payment? Did they charge spectators as well as participants? If I learn more I will gladly share – meanwhile, if you’re reading this and you attended, please chime in!

  12. Della says:

    I heard there were lots of people there again too. As I understand it, they opened up the other gates and had several people taking money, so the entering wasn’t a problem. Haven’t heard anyone else say anything! Everyone I know boycotted! Evidently not enough to make a difference though. sigh.

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