Sanford Bike Fest canceled due to lack of sponsors

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SANFORD, Fla. - Sanford city leaders are making a push to restore the Ninth Annual Bike Fest, which has been canceled due to a lack of sponsors.

More than 40,000 people packed Sanford last October for Bike Fest. As a major sponsor, attorney Michael Brehne had his custom bike front and center.

"It was as nice atmosphere. They had programs with stunt riders, motorcycle stunt riders. They had airplane stunt pilots doing things over the lake," said Brehne.

Brehne, however, pulled his financial support for 2013. So did Nationwide Insurance, which pulled its $15,000 contribution.

Channel 9's Bianca Castro asked whether the George Zimmerman trial, which put Sanford in the national spotlight and created tension across the country, had anything to do with the sponsors backing out.

"Absolutely not," said Brehne. "I know it never entered my mind. It was the turnout. It didn't have the following that would be necessary to get people to come out and ride."

Even so, city officials are now scrambling to restore the event, re-branding it "Celebrate Sanford."

The event could now cost taxpayers up to $10,000.

But a spokesperson told Channel 9 the city is figuring out whether it even has the money to spend. If Celebrate Sanford does happen, bikers like Lori Landers said they hope it gets the momentum that Bike Fest didn't.

"I hope that it is something that, at least part of it, will cater to bikers," said Landers.

City officials said Nationwide would not renew its five-year commitment, which ended last year. They said the decision was made well before the Zimmerman trial even began.