NEW PORT RICHEY — A tradition in October since 2005, the Cotee River Bike Fest will go on hiatus for 2013.
The chances the festival will ever return are slim after some sponsors dropped out, according to Dan Sullivan, the events and marketing coordinator for West Pasco Chamber of Commerce.
Last year’s event drew thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts and spectators to downtown New Port Richey and other sites over four days in the second weekend of October.
After losing about $25,000 in sponsorship money, chamber officials searched for replacement sponsors for the 2013 edition but couldn’t make up the shortfall. The chamber would have to raise about $50,000 to put on the show.
In 2005, the first Cotee River Bike Fest attracted about 20,000 people over two days, about twice the projected size of crowds. Business owners, especially motels, said they got a boost.
The event expanded each succeeding year with larger crowds.
The bike fest was never that profitable for the chamber and consumed staff time and resources. The event netted roughly $10,000 for the business organization last year, Sullivan said.
So organizers pulled the plug on the show this year.
“It doesn’t make good business sense to run a fundraising event” that could wind up losing quite a bit of money this year, Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Chip Wichmanowski said.
“It was not going to be profitable at all,” Wichmanowski said. “We would love to bring the event back if we can.”
A few remnants of Bike Fest could continue this October as independent events, such as a poker run, organizers added.
Sullivan and others can focus more on the other events the chamber stages, Wichmanowski said.
Next is the 2013 Ambassador Catch the Buzz Spelling Bee, to be held 5-8 p.m. Sept. 12, at Spartan Manor, 6121 Massachusetts Ave. The spelling bee is a fundraiser for education.