Leesburg’s highly popular Bikefest has been canceled for the second time this year.
The massive event originally had been scheduled for April but was postponed until Nov. 13-15 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But with Florida still in the Phase Two of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ reopening plan and the number of new cases continuing to rise – Leesburg reported 1,188 cases Friday, with 7,220 in Lake County and 18,869 in the tri-county area – the decision was made by the Leesburg Partnership to scrap this year’s effort and start working toward the 2021 event, which is planned for April 23-25.
The Partnership had announced in June on its website and Facebook page that it was moving ahead with plans for the November event. At the time, Joe Shipes, CEO of the Leesburg Partnership, said it was too early to make a final decision on canceling the event, depending upon what happened with a variety of factors, most importantly the continued outbreak of COVID-19.
In March, Leesburg Commissioner Dan Robuck III first raised the possibility of cancelling the annual event because of COVID-19. He cited the massive quarantine under way in Italy at the time and added that while he wasn’t yet pushing for Bikefest to be canceled, commissioners needed to be prepared to take action if needed, depending on the spread of the virus.
Mayor Elise Dennison has been a proponent of canceling this year’s Bikefest and looking ahead to 2021. After a recent commission meeting she suggested it would be difficult to hold a successful event in November and then another one just five months later.
The Leesburg Bikefest, which typically draws hundreds of thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts, pumps millions of dollars in the local economy on an annual basis. It is billed as the “World’s Largest 3 Day Motorcycle and Music Event” and will cover 30 blocks in downtown Leesburg with more than 50 concerts, 200-plus vendors, hot-body contests, bike and stunt shows and multiple venues.