More than 100,000 visitors from North Carolina and beyond witnessed fire performers, motorcycle giveaways, patriot rides, thrill shows and record-breaking stunts at Raleigh’s 10th-annual Ray Price Harley-Davidson Bikefest this weekend.
This free, three-day event featured concerts, conventions, stunt shows and vendors from all over the state. Bikefest brought crowds to Fayetteville Street, the Raleigh Convention Center and the Ray Price Harley-Davidson dealership located on South Saunders Street.
“You just can’t beat this,” said Warren Marks, a visitor from West Jefferson, North Carolina. “Not only is the ride down here fun, but once you get here, there is always something to do and something to see.”
Introduced in 2003, the Ray Price Capital City Bikefest was created to bring more attention and attendance to the Time Warner Cable Pavilion at Walnut Creek. With its success at this location, Ray Price Harley-Davidson and the City of Raleigh formed a partnership to bring the first motorcycle rally into the city in 2005.
Marks, who is the proud owner of a bright green Kawasaki Ninja sport motorcycle, said some of his favorite events were the street performances.
“The stunt riders who were burning rubber up and down [Fayetteville Street], were both exciting and nerve-racking,” Marks said. “It’s not every day that you get to see world-record holders risk their livelihood and attempt crazy new stunts.”
One of the world-record holders in attendance was Juli Moody, who is also known as The Female Human Link.
An Olympic gold medalist in the sport of power lifting and a five-time world record holder, Moody set yet another world record Saturday after she held back four Harley-Davidson motorcycles for one minute and 3.76 seconds using only her sheer strength and a couple of nylon straps.
“She left the crowd in a state of amazement and a cloud of smoke,” Marks said. “It was cool to see such a unique act in Raleigh.”
Also this weekend, Raleigh’s first Tattoo Festival was held downtown in the Sheraton Hotel, and many guests who attended Bikefest also visited the additional nearby festival. This event featured worst tattoo contests, live human suspension shows, live concerts and much more. The Tattoo Festival highlighted the growing popularity of tattooing in North Carolina.
Although Bikefest aimed to be family-friendly, it brought mixed emotions to many including Alice Davis, a Raleigh native and mother of two young girls.
“The noise is more than excessive, and the crowd that Bikefest attracts isn’t known for being the most welcoming,” Davis said. “It’s almost worrisome.”
During its early years, Bikefest drew fewer visitors to the event, and other festivals such as Hopscotch, SparkCon and BugFest did not fill up the weekends prior to Bikefest. However, as the attendance of festivals such as these continues to grow, so do the feelings Raleigh residents have toward them.
“It’s great to see Raleigh getting so much attention, but it’s also annoying when residents have a hard time going about their normal weekend activities due to the extra traffic and large crowds,” Davis said. “It would make more sense to me if these festivals were held just outside the city, instead of in the heart of downtown, especially when the city of Raleigh has such a packed festival schedule this time of year.”
Nevertheless, Bikefest has already announced that it will be returning to the streets of downtown Raleigh next year from Sept. 25 – 27.