- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—Fans, friends and family members turned out in droves to cheer on their favorite competitors — many of whom boosted Butte’s economy over a busy weekend in which local motels and restaurants shared amenities with Evel Knievel Days and the Butte 100 mountain bike race.

“It was packed,” said Jon Wick, Butte 100 communications director of the race start and finish line at Homestake Pass. “We had probably 500 people — fans and riders — at the finish line. It was a pretty cool deal.”

The Hampton Inn Butte, 3499 Harrison Ave., sponsored the Butte 100, which drew over 300 riders on Saturday for the ninth annual endurance event.

Brandi Jensen-Campbell, Hampton Inn Butte general manager, said the motel teemed with foot traffic over the weekend.

While the motels and hotels in town compete to book rooms, it appeared from crowds Uptown and elsewhere that business mostly boomed.

“I can’t imagine Friday and Saturday night that every property was not filled,” said Jensen-Campbell. “That is my assumption. We always work hard to get our properties filled before the event.”

Jensen-Campbell had no specific numbers on Monday. Maria Pochervina of the Butte-Silver Bow Chamber of Commerce said event revenue numbers compared to last year are not in yet.

One business planted in the heart of Uptown saw a major downturn in customers, despite the sweeping EK Days crowds that crammed the streets.

Glen Gothro, a Fred’s Mesquite Grill manager, said business during the weekend was “horrible.”

Normally Fred’s stays open until the late dinner crowd dissipates, but EK Days was a different story.

“We closed super early because we were super slow,” said Gothro. “Last year it was a little bit better, but this year it was nothing. But the Folk Festival has been good.”

Others also voiced concerns.

Brian Giordano, owner of Boulder, Mont.-based promotions company Swoop Productions, competed in the 2014 EK Days. But he was upset that his company contracts were pulled by the EK Days committee last Tuesday — two days before the 2015 event took off, he said.

His company, Giordano said, was set to perform the Sport Bike Freestyle, a motorcycle-driven show.

Terri James, EK Days president, said Monday that his first contract was canceled “a few months ago because we were having some legal issues.”

James said the group eventually decided to drop Swoop Productions after negotiations fell through.

Safety is another ongoing concern of EK Days.

Leah Salazar, manager, Mountain West Federal Credit Union, 400 E. Park St., said she spent the weekend camping to avoid the EK Days crowds. The Main Event stunts are performed on East Park Street.

“If I had a preference, I’d prefer it (the event) not be here,” she said.

Security personnel pushed onlookers behind fences directly behind the credit union and other businesses on either side of the approach to the two huge dirt ramps.

“I didn’t like the fact that it was here again,” said Salazar. “I think with the businesses here, they need to find somewhere else for EK Days. Our landscaping gets trampled and the people just don’t care.”

Salazar said she has voiced her opinion previously with EK Days organizers, but to no avail. However, she said there’s room for change.

“If we all pull together, maybe,” she added.

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(c)2015 The Montana Standard (Butte, Mont.)

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Topics: t000030748

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