Division A - Public Relations Programs
Category 9 - Special Events
The 9th Annual Thunder By The Bay Motorcycle Festival
Lucy Nicandri, The Florida Center; KSC Advertising & Public Relations, Inc.

Award of Distinction
Judges' Award

Research/Situation Analysis: The Thunder By The Bay Motorcycle Festival started in 1998 as a one day event that raised approx. $100 for local charity. In January 2007, the Festival celebrated it’s ninth, and biggest year to date with three days of events that raised more than $93,000 for The Florida Center’s programs and services.
The 9th Annual Thunder By The Bay Motorcycle Festival was held from January 5th through January 7th, 2007 with proceeds benefiting The Florida Center for Child and Family Development. The Festival consisted of four events which were run by volunteers from Sarasota and the surrounding communities. Each year, the Festival has a positive economic impact on the Sarasota community and raises funds vital to The Florida Center’s mission. The Festival also provides the Sarasota community with an opportunity to experience a variety of exciting events, while contributing to a worthy cause.

Objectives: (1) It was determined that an increase of 35%, or 81 volunteers, over the previous year’s number (230) would be necessary to adequately staff the 2007 Festival events. (2) In 2006, the Festival raised $58,900 in net revenue; the 2007 goal was to increase that amount by 28%, to $75,000 to benefit The Florida Center. (3) In past years, the Festival drew its attendance largely from Florida residents. In order to bring the event to a national level in both attendance and recognition, it was determined that the Festival needed to gain attention from a minimum of two national media outlets in addition to expanding its local and statewide media coverage. (4) Sponsorships are key to the Festival’s success, providing both in-kind support to the events, as well as contributing to the bottom line. The goal of the Festival was to increase sponsorships (both cash and in-kind) from last year’s total of $75,400 to $100,000.

Implementation: Festival planning takes several months and usually begins during the fall with the formation of a Festival committee and sponsor recruitment. The Festival committee was key in increasing volunteer participation as it consisted of business owners and leaders from local bike groups who recruited heavily from their contacts. The Florida Center’s Marketing and Special Events Department, comprised of two people, was responsible for overseeing the committee and securing donors and sponsorships, as well as additional volunteer recruitment and all other aspects of the event planning and coordination. The Florida Center also handled all media inquiries and public relations efforts surrounding the Festival.
In order to increase revenues for the Festival, several approaches were taken. The Festival’s Saturday event, which in the past had only been a concert, was expanded to a “BBQ, Bands & Blue Jeans” event which included food, more than 80 vendors, 3 bands, motocross demos, and four nationally-known guest bike builders. These changes resulted in an increased attendance from 1,500 to more than 10,000, each paying a $10 admission fee. To increase attendance at Sunday’s Downtown Festival, the layout was expanded to accommodate more attendees, vendors and displays. “Sub-events” were also added to the Downtown Event to draw larger crowds including live entertainment, a bike show, and meet and greet areas with guest bike builders. These expanded events also lead to increased sponsorship opportunities with new and existing corporate and in-kind sponsors.
An overwhelming amount of media coverage was received for the Festival with numerous stories and photos running in local newspapers and magazines, as well as a special advertising-sponsored insert in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune (reaching a circulation of 68,164), and photos and special features running in statewide and national motorcycle related magazines. Bike builders attended this year’s event for the first time representing the Discovery Channel, Travel Channel, A&E Channel and Speed Channel. Overall, media coverage was secured in more than 17 local and statewide media outlets, including radio, print and television and three national outlets. Increased media coverage led to higher event attendance and in addition to local, statewide, and national crowds, the Festival drew visitors from Canada, the Bahamas, Germany, Italy, and Brazil.
The Festival also provided an important opportunity for raising awareness of The Florida Center’s mission, creating new opportunities for donors, and volunteer support for the organization. This effort was implemented and achieved through use of The Florida Center logo in all in-kind advertising, inclusion of The Florida Center’s mission in many news articles and features, and information in all press releases.
In addition to raising money for The Florida Center, The Festival had a significant overall financial impact on the community, bringing thousands of dollars to Sarasota by way of motorcycle enthusiasts to area hotels, restaurants and retail outlets.

Evaluation: The Festival was a huge success. (1) Volunteer numbers increased by 52%, (120 volunteers). (2) The Festival had net revenues of $93,300, an increase of 58% or $34,400. These funds will directly benefit The Florida Center’s programs for children and families. (3) The Festival attracted several nationally known bike builders and a motocross team, which resulted in media attention from three national television stations, as well as coverage on three local news programs. (4) Sponsorships for the Festival increased to a total of $129,200 (increases of $33,500 in corporate and $20,300 in-kind).

Budget: Total Festival Expenses $84,344; Total Sponsor and Event Revenue $174,644; Total Net Revenue $90,300