Capital City Bikefest is undergoing some major changes while getting ready for a television close-up.
The 14th annual event will be Sept. 21-23, but unlike previous years, much of the event will be happening away from downtown.
The Fayetteville Street main drag has been the epicenter for Bikefest. But the street fair, motorcycle club meet-ups and most of the live music will be at the Tobacco Road Harley-Davidson dealership (formerly Ray Price) on South Saunders Street.
The festival’s custom bike and vintage car show will remain at the Raleigh Convention Center in downtown — in the downstairs exhibition area.
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“It’s always been split, and we’ve always had two venues,” said Mark Hendrix, Bikefest organizer and general manager of Tobacco Road Harley-Davidson. “Fayetteville Street just overshadowed the others because it was so large and obvious, being outside.”
In another change, the bike and car show is ticketed for the first time this year. Admission will be $10, while events at the dealership remain free.
“Costs have risen to put it on,” said Hendrix. “We’ve been able to keep up with sponsorships, but that’s started to flip. So this year, it’s ticketed.”
The first Capital City Bikefest was at Moore Square in 2005, and it moved to Fayetteville Street a year later. It was among Raleigh’s first big September street-festival events, drawing six-figure crowds. Attendance topped out at 140,000 people three years ago, and last year’s event drew 110,000 people.
That attracted the attention of the History Channel, which filmed part of last year’s Bikefest for a segment of Dave Ankin’s “ToyMakerz” show.
This year, Bikefest will be the subject of an entire episode on the show about “unique toys for big boys.”
But with the increased attention and bigger crowds, noise complaints have grown — especially now that more people live downtown.
“We just decided to make the best of it and relocate,” said Hendrix. “The landscape downtown has changed, with a lot more residents. We’ve been there 14 years and watched it shift. I just hope some bikers don’t show up, park in the middle of Fayetteville Street and walk away like they’ve been doing for 14 years.”
What: Capital City Bikefest
When: Friday through Sunday, Sept. 21-23
Where: Raleigh Convention Center, 500 S. Salisbury St.; Tobacco Road Harley-Davidson, 1126 S. Saunders St., Raleigh
Cost: Free for events at the dealership, $10 for the custom bike and vintage car show at the convention center. Proceeds donated to nonprofit charities the USO of N.C., and the U.S. Veterans Corps.
Details: 919-832-2261 or CapitalCityBikefest.com