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Street Vibrations cancellation hurt vendors, local economy
by Joshua H. Silavent
Oct 02, 2011 | 2294 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune/John Byrne
Motorcyclists left en masse from Victorian Square on Saturday, Sept. 24, after the annual Street Vibrations event was cancelled in Sparks. Vendors reported a loss of sales resulting from missing the weekend crowds.
Tribune/John Byrne Motorcyclists left en masse from Victorian Square on Saturday, Sept. 24, after the annual Street Vibrations event was cancelled in Sparks. Vendors reported a loss of sales resulting from missing the weekend crowds.
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SPARKS — When the Victorian Square venue of Street Vibrations was shut down last weekend after an altercation between rival motorcycle gangs left a Hells Angels boss dead inside John Ascuaga’s Nugget, prompting a state-of-emergency as the city prepared for retaliatory violence, street vendors gathered for the biker rally were told to pack up and ship out.

The decision to close the Sparks site was met with both disappointment and understanding from vendors.

“It was a really unfortunate incident,” said Miguel Vivanco, whose Dragonfly Clothing booth was stationed along Victorian Square.

Vivanco said he was standing nearby when a hail of gunfire ripped through Trader Dick’s bar inside the Nugget. Though he did not see the actual incident, the sound of gunfire still rattles in his head.

“It kind of stays with you,” he said.

But that frightening moment won’t deter Vivanco from coming back to Sparks if the Street Vibrations rally returns next year.

That’s because the Sparks venue proved to be Vivanco’s best show in 2010, the first year it moved into the Victorian Square location.

Of course, the 2011 version fared much worse. Saturday and Sunday draw the biggest crowds for the event, and the loss of these two days proved costly for Vivanco.

“I definitely lost some sales,” he said, estimating the figure at about $10,000.

Vivanco did, however, make up for some of the losses at his second vendor booth in downtown Reno.

Vivanco, like other vendors, also had up-front costs in the neighborhood of $2,500, which he doesn’t expect to recoup.

“Don’t hold your breath” on being reimbursed, said Ed Baker, owner of Baker Custom Inc., a motorcycle parts manufacturer based in Lancaster, Calif. “The little guy always eats it.”

Baker, who also hosted a booth in Victorian Square, said the closure of Street Vibrations in Sparks “hurt everybody.”

Of course, the cancellation also hurt the local economy.

Street Vibrations officials had estimated the event would bring about $38 million to the region. Though no estimates on the actual losses have been calculated, the end result is not good.

“(The weekend days) are traditionally our biggest days” for attendance, said Randy Burke, president of Roadshows Inc., the event’s producer.

Burke said that while vendors cannot be reimbursed for their losses, he does plan to provide some incentives to bring them back next year.

Roadshows itself operated five vendor booths during the event, so “nobody got hurt more than we did,” Burke said.

Burke said there has been no discussion about canceling Street Vibrations in Sparks next year.

“We’re in it for the long run,” he said.

Sparks Councilman Ron Schmitt, who heads the city’s Tourism and Marketing Committee, also said no formal discussions about the future of Street Vibrations in Sparks had yet taken place.

“It’s really too soon to talk about that,” he said.

However, Schmitt fully expects to address the issue by the end of the year and certainly before any talk begins of funding the event next year.

The abrupt closure of Street Vibrations in Sparks marked a week of tragedy for two of the most prized special events in the region, beginning with the plane crash at the Reno Air Races.

“There is no doubt we’ve taken a black eye here,” Schmitt said. “There is no way you can say we have not been hurt by these events.”

But officials don’t have to look hard for positive signs from this year’s special events season.

For example, city officials and event producers estimate that hundreds of thousands of people attended the Nugget Rib Cook-Off over the Labor Day weekend.

“We can recover from this,” Schmitt said. “It’s not something that will take us down.”

As for Street Vibrations, many vendors expressed a desire to see it return to Sparks in 2011.

“I hope this incident doesn’t take away from how good the show is,” Vivanco said.
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