Thousands of motorcycles roar into St. Andrews
Scenic St. Andrews By-the-Sea is one of the country's foremost tourism destinations for boaters, RVs and car daytrippers and they will be joined this weekend by upwards of 10,000 motorcycles.
The annual Atlanticade Motorcycle Festival is debuting in the southwestern New Brunswick community over the next four days.
The event was predicted to bring between 3,000 and 5,000 bikes but organizers now say the seaside resort town could host 10,000 motorcycles if the forecast for sunny skies holds for the next few days.
Garrett Turta, general manager of the Fairmont Algonquin, where many of the festivities are taking place, said he hopes this weekend can rev up the reputation of a town normally seen as quiet and a little stuffy.
"We want St. Andrews to be a robust [tourist community] ... that you get that here is a sense of a lot happening, that you had a great time here," Turta said.
While the community is hoping the festival will reshape its image, Dale Hicks, the event's organizer, said the bikers themselves want to change some misconceptions of what a motorcycle rally brings with it.
"We want two things to happen: we want the particpants to say, 'Wow that was a great event, we want to come back.' And we want the residents to say, 'Wow that was a great event, we want them back,' " Hicks said.
Atlanticade started in Moncton, but it was feared the annual festival was taking a backseat to other events, such as concerts.
So, it was wooed to hit the highway and head south to St. Andrews.
It is estimated that $3 million will be spent in the area over the weekend.
St. Andrews Mayor John Craig said his community was more than happy to welcome the bikers when the event switched locations.
"It's going to be a big boon for our area. This town needs things like this. We're a tourist area," Craig said.
"This is a five-day event, people are going to be staying here overnight enjoying the hotels and everything, and this is going to ... put a lot of dollars into the coffers in this town."
It isn't just the seaside town that could benefit from the money rolling into St. Andrews.
Chelsea Allaby has a rare form of cancer and the proceeds from two events this weekend will go to getting her treatment.
Brent Allaby, Chesley's father, said the weekend rally will make a huge difference for his daughter.
"To have her here and to see the bikes, this has made a big difference to Chelsea. And we hope in the end, it can make a big difference in her health in the long run," Allaby said.
RCMP Sgt. Greg MacAvoy is urging drivers to be cautious, courteous and careful, with the large volume of traffic expected in the area.
Along with the motorcycle event, MacAvoy said other weekend events in the region are going to cause traffic congestion.
"We are urging all motorists to use extra care and to be prepared for the possibility of occasional delays," MacAvoy said.
"It is hoped that with some patience by all and courtesy toward other road users, everyone will safely enjoy this festival as well as the various Canada Day and Fourth of July celebrations taking place over the next few days."