FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/FOX24) — Leaders of Bikes, Blues & BBQ are dealing with the fallout of deciding to postpone the event this year.
People in the Facebook comments on the Bikes, Blues & BBQ page have a lot of questions about the University of Arkansas’ decision to pull the plug on the event, especially considering the university is still hosting several large scale events this year.
“It’s not worth the risk to put one life in danger for the cash register ringing a few extra times,” said Steve Clark, President of the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce and Board Member for the Bikes, Blues & BBQ event.
He said more than 200,000 people come for the event each year and spend about $100 a day.
“We as a chamber would love to see our business up and down the I-49 corridor, our businesses on Dickson Street and uptown and midtown Fayetteville do better because of the thousands of people looking for food and other things,” he said. “But that’s not going to happen right now and that’s ok.”
Clark said the vote to postpone the event was not an easy one, especially given the donations they raise for various charities in the area that are in need of the support.
“It was the right decision for all the right reasons,” he said. “Our board had no difficulty that decisions. It was unanimous, painful but unanimous.”
Some people are saying online that it doesn’t make sense. The University of Arkansas went ahead with events like sorority recruitment, and plans to hold full capacity football games.
University Spokesperson John Thomas and Clark say the warning from Washington Regional sealed the decision.
“Our hospital said this is going to create danger, a danger of us being unable to help those in need of medical services,” said Clark. “And they didn’t just say those attending the event, but also you and me and anyone else who lives here.”
Thomas referenced the following statement from Washington Regional on behalf of the university:
“Bikes, Blues & BBQ historically results in a meaningful increase in traumas presenting to our emergency room. Washington Regional does not experience an increase in traumas as a result of athletic events, concerts or other passive attendance venues.”Washington Regional Hospital
Thomas also said in a statement, “In addition, University events, including football games, include established safety guidelines. For instance, masks will be required in indoor areas of the stadium when social distancing cannot be maintained. Masks will also be required on Razorback Transit buses to and from the games, as well in accordance with federal guidelines. We look forward to welcoming fans back for football games this season, starting next Saturday.”
Clark hopes people still come to Northwest Arkansas on the last weekend of September and enjoy all it has to offer. He expects about 3,000-4,000 people will still come that weekend.
“Come enjoy our scenery, come enjoy our warmth and hospitality, come enjoy what you’ll get to see in full array the next time we launch our rally,” he said.
He said getting the event rescheduled before November would be too soon to turn around, and they don’t want to have it in the middle of winter. He said spring is an option for rescheduling the event, however that is still very much up in the air right now.
KNWA/FOX24 did reach out to Bikes, Blues & BBQ Executive Director Tommy Sisemore for comment but have not heard back yet. He said in a post on the event’s Facebook page to stay tuned for more details coming in the future.