When it began, the event only brought in a few hundred bikers. But over the decades, the crowds have grown. In 2022, the 42nd year of the celebration, the estimated festival participation along the entire Grand Strand area was over 250,000 visitors. This explosion of visitors happens every year for an extended weekend of motorcycle racing, motorcycle parades, concerts, parties, street festivals and historical reflections from the cyclists and community members.
The History of the Memorial Day Black Pearl Cultural Heritage and Bike Festival
The Memorial Day Black Pearl Cultural Heritage and Bike Festival was founded by the Carolina Knight Riders, formerly known as the Flaming Knight Riders motorcycle club, in 1980. Even though Harley Davidson Week takes place along the Grand Strand in early May, the African American bikers decided to create their own rally and celebration. The bikers partnered with the Atlantic Beach community to host their rally. In this community they were welcomed and celebrated. Over the years the celebration has had several name changes - Black Bike Week, Atlantic Beach Bikefest, Memorial Day Bikefest, and now the Memorial Day Black Pearl Cultural Heritage and Bike Festival. Today, this festival, held annually over the Memorial Day Weekend, has become the third largest motorcycle rally in the country behind Sturgis and Daytona. Annually, the festival draws thousands of visitors to Atlantic Beach who will enrich the entire Grand Strand culturally and economically.
The 43rd Annual Memorial Day Black Pearl Cultural Heritage and Bike Festival is scheduled for May 26th - 29th, 2023.
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