Hotels Full Like Football Saturdays
COLUMBIA - With the National Bikers Roundup and a religious convention headlining a weekend of events, Columbia is bursting at the seams. Bikers combine with Jehovah's Witnesses in hotels and around Columbia. The crowds may create some inconvenience for some residents, but officials say the long run benefits are great.
"Just to do a guess-timate based on the number of people, average expenditure, and the number of days that they're here, we'll end up, I'd say, somewhere between $15 and $18 million before it's all over," said Columbia Convention and Vistors Bureau Executive Director Lorah Steiner.
Officials say there are around 4,000 Jehovah's Witnesses at the convention and Steiner estimates that there are between 20,000 and 25,000 bikers at the roundup.
Steiner said those numbers are lower than earlier estamates, which she said could be due to the fact the roundup is not on the east coast and that it's not hosted in a major city.
Even with the lower numbers, Steiner said hotels are full within a 30 to 40 mile radius of Columbia.
At the Courtyard Marriot off at the Grindstone exit of Highway 63, manager Bob McDonald agrees.
"This is very similar to the volume that we'd see on homecoming or graduation, something of that sort." said McDonald.
While the bikers fill up the Boone County Fairgrounds, Jehovah's Witnesses fill up seats usually reserved for MU basketball fans at Mizzou Arena.
"We appreciate a lot of different things about the community here and the professionalism of the university and it's staff," said the convention's News Service Overseer Kevin Lancaster. "It makes our stay very confortable."
Lancaster also said the other events this weekend haven't disrupted any of the convention's attendees.
"Well, every year we give many months of advance notice to our members," said Lancaster. "So that they're able to make the appropriate hotel accommodations well in advance. So we can all have nice comfortable rooms. So we can have a comfortable stay and again be able to focus on what we're taught."
In a month that's usually slow, the Convention and Vistors Bureau tried to make sure there were events during August.
"It's now sort of a joke in our office that we maybe worked a little bit too hard to fill August because we have a lot of business in August this year," said Steiner
As the weekend goes on everyone hopes each events goes off smoothly.