Promoters are calling it the world's biggest motorcycle concert, but now there are questions about Nashville Bike Week, the ten day music and motorcycle event set for September out in Humphreys County. Some who bought tickets are now wondering if it's all just a big scam.
It all started after Loretta Lynn's Ranch suddenly announced that it was cutting ties with Nashville Bike Week and the festival was going to have to find another home. Now, promoters say they've lined up another location nearby, but they won't say where, fueling concerns about whether the event is even going to happen.
"We've heard from Chicago. We've heard from Maine last night. Missouri. Atlanta," Humphreys County Sheriff Chris Davis told NewsChannel 5 Investigates.
Davis said his office is getting calls from across the country from folks who've paid hundreds of dollars to attend Nashville Bike Week. According to the event's website, the ten day festival for motorcycle and music fans will have stages, stunt shows, and more than a hundred bands. But the Sheriff said he doesn't have answers for those who want to know if it's really going to happen.
"I am concerned. I am concerned," he shared.
He said too many red flags keep popping up.
Bike Week promoters had struck a deal to hold the event at Loretta Lynn's Ranch in Hurricane Mills. But late Monday night, ranch managers announced they were "cutting ties with Nashville Bike Week" because promoters had "failed to meet the financial terms" of their contract. Loretta Lynn's people told us organizers missed repeated deadlines to make deposits and other payments.
Nashville Bike Week initially denied that, posting on Facebook that "all financial obligations" had been "met" with the Loretta Lynn Ranch though the post was later taken down. Organizers instead insisted the move was because the Ranch had "failed" to meet the state health department's requirements for such events.
But the state Health Department told NewsChannel 5 Investigates they never "failed" the ranch property. They had expressed some concern with how the festival planned to use the property. But the real problem they said was that the promoter had never applied for the state permit that's required for a gathering this size.
The promoter claims Bike Week could draw as many 150,000 people, though he told both the Health Department and NewsChannel 5 Investigates he's only sold about 4,700 tickets so far, just below the number that would require a permit. However, he's told others he's sold a lot more.
"A little more than ten thousand, I think were the exact words that they used," Sheriff Davis recalled.
The man behind Nashville Bike Week is now using the name Mike Axle, but his real name is Michael Leffingwell and we found he's been repeatedly accused in the past of taking customers' money and running. We found he's been arrested in Nashville, Maury, and Williamson counties as well as out of state for writing worthless checks and theft.
"That's a big red flag for us," Sheriff Davis said. But what worries the sheriff most is what an event this size would do to his county. He wants to start planning for it now but says getting specifics from Mike Axle and his team has been nearly impossible.
"It's like they're trying to keep information from us. And that's very concerning," the sheriff stated. Mike Axle originally agreed to do an interview with us, but failed to get back to us when we were supposed to do it.
He said he would announce the new location for Nashville Bike Week on Friday. He says it's not far from the original location.
In the meantime, the Humphreys County Sheriff's Office would like to hear from anyone who bought tickets for Nashville Bike Week and now has concerns about it.
The Humphreys County Sheriff's Office asks anyone who bought tickets who has concerns to contact them.