Fewer venues applied for Horry County special events permits for the Harley-Davidson Cruisin' the Coast spring rally this year, dropping from 17 applications in 2009 to 11.
Horry County spokeswoman Lisa Bourcier said of the 11 permits, only one was a new venue from years past. Area motorcycle rally promoters said they are hearing mixed expectations for rally attendance this May.
Some said all signs and trends are pointing to fewer vendors and fewer bikers; others said poor attendance at the Daytona Beach rally this year might mean gains for Myrtle Beach.
"This is the worst year Daytona Beach has had in almost 20 years. They had rain all that week, and traditionally people who don't go to that rally because of weather will then come to Myrtle Beach; at least they did before the helmet laws and noise ordinances went into effect," said Buster Brown, co-owner of the Rat Hole in Socastee. "We're crossing our fingers that that will be the case. I've gotten a lot of encouragement and supportive e-mails from people who have gone to our Web site. There are people who want this to continue and who will be back this year, but there's a lot of indication that there's going to be smaller attendance again."
The Rat Hole will move forward as planned with its annual motorcycle rodeo events, but Brown, who promotes other motorcycle events around the country, said he has been putting less effort into the Myrtle Beach events. Attendance started to drop in 2009 after the first year for strict noise ordinances and a helmet law inside Myrtle Beach. Several pro-motorcycle candidates ran for mayor and City Council in Myrtle Beach with promises to overturn the rally restrictions. All but one incumbent was re-elected when voters went to the polls last November.