Organizers of the Cape Breton Bike Fest: Thunder in the Highlands are speaking out about the reasons why the event was suddenly cancelled this week.
Organizer Leah Boyd says a number of sponsors gave supplies or services this year, instead of cash, and they could not make up the difference.
The notice on their website, posted early Tuesday, said it was cancelled due to “circumstances beyond our control.” The event was scheduled to run from Aug. 1 to Aug. 4.
In a release from organizers late Tuesday, Boyd thanked sponsors and volunteers, but said due to a lack of support and funding it was impossible to go forward this year.
Enterprise Cape Breton Corporation says it offered the group $30,000 this year, the same amount as the past two years.
The Cape Breton Regional Municipality says it also approved support, offering $2,500 in cash and several thousand dollars worth of in-kind support.
The Cape Breton Bike Fest received $100,000 from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency in 2011 and $75,000 in 2010.
A bike festival may still go forward this year under a new banner.
'Someone has to get up and do something and not sit around and speculate on what’s going on.' - Chad Bryden
Former Sydney resident Chad Bryden, who now lives in Alberta, has stepped forward and says he will run the Bike Fest under a new name. Bryden admits he wasn’t involved in Bike Fest in the past.
“Other than taking part in the event, I didn’t volunteer or anything. I just took part," he says.
"I just decided that someone has to get up and do something and not sit around and speculate on what’s going on.”
ECBC and the CBRM both say if a suitable organization comes forward, their funding could be available. The CBRM says, it has spoken to Bryden but can only contribute money and venues to non-profit groups.
Bryden says he plans to set up a non-profit organization Wednesday.
This would have been the sixth year for the event, which last year attracted 10,000 bikers for three days of concerts, motorcycle safety courses and demonstrations. Organizers estimate the event pumped $5 million into the Cape Breton economy in 2013 and drew visitors from all over North America and Europe.
According to Bike Fest’s website, Parks Canada and the Fortress of Louisbourg Association have agreed to move forward with the signature event “Storm the Fortress” for the motorcycle community.