About 50 people gathered in the south parish of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church Thursday night to hear city council candidates face off at a forum sponsored by the Fayetteville Council of Neighborhoods.
Paid parking, green space, and recycling were some of the topics covered, but with the rumbling sounds of Bikes, Blues & BBQ just a few blocks away, it seemed only fitting when the annual motorcycle rally worked its way into the discussion.
When asked by an audience member if Bikes, Blues & BBQ is a value gain for what local residents have to put up with during the week of the rally, all four candidates said they believed it was.
Rhonda Adams, a candidate for Ward 4, said although she understands that some people are upset about the noise, the positive impacts outweigh the inconveniences. “For me, it’s not too much to put up with,” she said. “I believe it benefits our Dickson Street businesses and our downtown businesses.”
Her opponent, Jeff Dickey, agreed that the Dickson Street area sees a benefit from the rally, but said that he’d like to make sure that no A&P money is spent on it. “Bikes, Blues & BBQ is big. I don’t think the city needs to continually fund it.”
Note: To be clear, it’s been a few years since Bikes, Blues & BBQ has received any A&P event funding. The commission did, however, award $20,000 to a new motorcycle rally, Bikes, Babes & Bling, during last November’s funding meeting.
“I’m all about the festivals,” said Adam Fire Cat, a candidate for the Ward 2 seat. “I think we should have more, quite frankly.”
Besides being a Dickson Street karaoke jockey, Cat also busses tables at a restaurant on College Avenue. He said that the positive revenue effects are not limited to just the downtown area.
“When I leave here I’ll be going to work,” said Cat, “We’ll be getting stomped on Dickson Street. But then on Friday and Saturday night, we’ll be getting stomped at Village Inn.”
Cat’s opponent, Mark Kinion, said it’s a tough issue because he likes the rally even though a lot of people in his neighborhood don’t. “I chose to live downtown,” he said, adding that he loves the vibrancy and action the motorcycles bring to the area.
The money being spent locally, however, is his favorite part of the rally, he said.
“It’s coming in as sales tax money,” said Kinion. “If you don’t like it, you’ve just got to hold your nose if that’s how you feel. I breathe it in and think it’s wonderful.”