by: Jason Kelly, Johny Fernandez Updated:
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Thousands of motorcyclists are expected to travel to downtown Daytona Beach this weekend for the 25th annual Biketoberfest.
Business owners are hopeful that more people make the pilgrimage this year.
About 100,000 people typically attend the gathering, but attendance figures dipped to 40,000 last year because the festival was held one week after Hurricane Matthew tore through Central Florida.
The event began Thursday and will run through Sunday.
Daniel Myara, who owns Cruisin' Cafe, said the annual festival has grown significantly over the last 20 years.
"It's getting bigger and bigger," Myara said. "The more events, the better... I think we should have more events."
The Daytona Beach Police Department said it's partnering with the Florida Highway Patrol to police festival areas along Main Street, North Beach Street, Dr. May McLeod Bethune Boulevard and West International Speedway Boulevard.
Deputies from Volusia, Flagler and Seminole counties will also patrol Biketoberfest festivities to keep bikers safe and roadways clear.
Resident Jackie Johnston said she's confident this year's event will be as safe as those held in previous years.
"Everyone needs to do their share and do their part to be safe," Johnston said. "And to be just a part of a fun time."
Increased security is on everyone's mind.
"It is high presence of the police, which is needed because of the sheer amount of people that are going to be in one little area in particular areas throughout the city," biker Chris Waddell said.
Drivers should expect traffic congestion on Main Street and on Ridegewood and Atlantic avenues through Sunday.
© 2017 Cox Media Group.
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