By Debra Smith Herald Writer
SULTAN — Organizers of a popular Snohomish motorcycle show plan to test drive Sultan as a new home for their event Sunday.
A scaled-down classic bike show is planned for the third day of Shindig, Sultan’s annual street fair.
“So far they’ve had a really great reception for us,” said Rod Hobelman, a spokesman for The Sky Valley Chapter of the American Bikers Aimed Toward Education. “They are excited to see how this works.”
Hobelman said they don’t have to pay a dime for security.
Snohomish wanted $30,000 to pay for police, and the group canceled The Old Snohomish Antique and Classic Motorcycle Show, which it had held for 11 years in the city’s antiques district.
Last year 22,000 people showed up, including a few hundred members of outlaw biker clubs such as the Bandidos and Hells Angels.
Organizers had been paying $5,000 for police services until this spring when Snohomish police said they needed more to pay for 70 police officers to work during the event.
Many of the police agencies that used to donate their services can’t afford to do that any more because of the poor economy and budget cuts, city officials said.
When ABATE suggested fewer officers, the Snohomish police chief said he didn’t want to skimp on security for an event that draws some members of outlaw motorcycle clubs.
After weeks of back-and-forth, organizers canceled the show.
Sultan city leaders invited ABATE to bring the show to their town.
Since the show won’t be as large and is in a new, more remote location, Sultan’s contracted police chief, Lt. Jeff Brand, said they expect about 5,000 motorcyclists to roll into town Sunday.
“The city is excited they are going to have the opportunity to have 5,000 more people than they normally would,” he said. The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office is charging the city $2,100 for police services for all three days of Shindig. That includes the bike show security costs.
Forty-eight officers are scheduled to work shifts during the three-day event. Community volunteers also plan to help direct parking for cars and motorcycles.
He kept costs down by juggling shifts and bringing in sheriff’s deputies from other areas in the county. That’s an option Snohomish didn’t have.
“Hopefully, this will be a great training exercise, but our job is to be prepared and that’s what we are doing,” Brand said.
Any event has the potential to attract riffraff, and motorcyclists aren’t inherently more likely to cause trouble than any other group, said Debbie Copple, director of the Sky Valley Chamber of Commerce. The chamber puts on the annual Shindig celebration along with the city.
“I still think we aren’t going to need what (police) think they are but they are trying to err on the side of caution,” she said.
She’s more worried about motorcyclists getting to town safely after state road workers ground deep grooves into U.S. 2 between Sultan and Monroe as part of a resurfacing project. Bikers can detour around the highway by taking Old Owen Road or Ben Howard Road.
Police Chief Brand said everyone should also expect stepped-up patrols on the roads around Sultan.
As for the organizers of the show, spokesman Hobelman said they won’t make any decisions about the location of next year’s show until after Sunday. At least two other cities, Everett and Lake Stevens, have expressed interest in hosting the show, he said.
Debra Smith: 425-339-3197, firstname.lastname@example.org