30,000 bikers expected at Darlington event

By Samantha Lyles, Staff Writer, slyles@newsandpress.net

Perhaps upwards of 30,000 bikers will roll into Darlington County next week as the 38th Annual National Bikers Roundup drops a kickstand at the Darlington Dragway from August 5 through 9.

With such a large influx of visitors, plans are in place to smooth out traffic kinks along Bobo Newsom Highway and keep both residents and guests safe on the roads.
Darlington County Sheriff Wayne Byrd says there will be law enforcement officers present – either South Carolina Highway Patrol or DCSO deputies – on the highway in front of the venue pretty much 24 hours a day during the Roundup.

Motorists heading west on Bobo Newsom towards Hartsville will find the right lane converted to turn-only into the Dragway. Eastbound traffic turning into the venue will mostly be guided into the median to keep the main lanes moving. Byrd says travelers looking to avoid delays would be wise to plan alternate routes that bypass main thoroughfares.

Congestion on the roads can lead to frayed tempers and costly mistakes, so Darlington Police Department Chief Danny Watson advises drivers to keep a cool head and avoid getting tickets themselves. Watson says every DPD officer not in school or on active military duty will be working during the Roundup, which means more cops on the streets looking out for speeders, impaired drivers, and those with criminal intent.

Another traffic worry is the inevitability of a car vs. motorcycle collision, which often results in severe injuries for the biker. Byrd advises local drivers to stay alert during this event and take care to share the road safely with these two-wheeled visitors.

“In talking with other venues, there are a lot more motorcycle-related crashes around this event, and it’s primarily because you have such a large number of motorcycles on the road. People are not used to seeing that many bikes that frequently traveling through the area,” says Sheriff Byrd. “You’re talking about 25,000 to 35,000 bikers coming in and out, every day, twice a day. There’s going to be a lot of motorcycles on the road and we certainly want our local citizens to be on the watch for them, to be extra careful.”

For businesses that plan to catch their share of the tourism windfall, Sheriff Byrd says planning ahead can help spare business the stress of being overwhelmed.
“I’d probably make sure I had some extra help on hand and brief all my employees ahead of time,” he says. “And if a situation or conflict develops, address it directly… and if they have a problem, they can call law enforcement and we’d be glad to handle that for them.”

The biggest traffic influx to area restaurants will be during breakfast hours. One Roundup organizer tells the News and Press that many bikers like to go out and enjoy a hearty breakfast, but afternoon and evening meals are mostly prepared on grills at the campsite.

To keep all those grills fired up, and keep everyone cool and hydrated, local markets are advised to keep plenty of charcoal, propane, ice, and drinking water in stock.
Restaurants are asked to designate parking for motorcycles, preferably in an easily seen and well-lit area to discourage thieves from stealing custom parts or cargo from the bikes.

The schedule of events for the 38th Annual National Bikers Roundup is as follows:
Wednesday: Music all day from DJ Big Mike and DJ Shakim
Friday: Spade card tournament from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m.; live music Friday night from Terrance Young and the Soul Central Band, and Big Mucci; Test and Tune Grudge Racing at the Darlington Dragway
Saturday: Bike show and sound contest from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.; live music Saturday night from Big Robb, DJ Shakim, and DJ Big Mike
Each day will offer plenty of activities for kids, karaoke, and vendors
General admission is $30, bikers wearing club colors pay $20, and kids 12 and under are admitted free.
For more information, call: 803-392-8214

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Author: Duane Childers

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