Burt Munro festival race entries up 10pc
@devlincolle: The Burt Munro festival makes the biggest single economic impact on Southland and is set to get bigger, organisers say.
Burt Munro organising committee chairman Wayne Affleck said race entries were up 10 per cent on last year and he expected spectator numbers would also grow.
A 2008 economic impact showed the direct economic impact of those attending the rally was an injection of more than $1.1 million into the region.
Another economic impact study was planned after this year's event and Mr Affleck expected the figures to rise significantly.
Extra interest had been shown in the event worldwide after exposure in Time magazine as "one of the five festive events you don't want to miss in 2013" and promotion had increased using a Facebook page, advertising in Australian magazines and putting up flags and banners in Invercargill.
More than 500 competitors would be taking part, including Australian Superbike rider Rob Phillips.
Venture Southland event manager Jade Gillies said Philips, 58, would show the youngsters how it was done.
Some classes, such as sidecar, have seen record numbers of entries.
It was expected new events such as the motorcross event in Winton would attract huge crowds.
The rally site at Sandy Point usually attracted 1200 campers.
A full bar and entertainment (two bands each night) would provide a festival atmosphere and was the hub of the events, he said.
"This rally concept is unique in the country - where it is set up to run alongside the race events during the week."
It was not open for the public to walk in but people could register and buy passes to get in, which would also get them into all the race events, Mr Affleck said.
Pre-registration for the rally closes tomorrow but people could still turn up and buy tickets at the gate.
The only weather-dependent Burt Munro event would be the beach racing. All others would go ahead, Mr Affleck said.
"Most people think it's the rain but it's actually the wind the night before, we need a smooth beach."
Mr Affleck praised the Southland community for supporting the Burt Munro challenge every year.
"The community gets behind us each year and offers us help wherever we go. They reinforce the friendly Southland reputation on bikers."
Many people did not realise that, apart from Mr Gillies, the event was manned by volunteers, he said.
Community groups got involved for donations and often the challenge proved the biggest fundraiser for them.
The Southland Times