Bike shows, rallies and events—they are everywhere you turn, but the Fayetteville rally is the fastest growing rally in the United States. This year the crowd peaked at 300,000 and 85,000 bikes! Vendor alleys, Babe contest, BBQ contest, Texas Holdem’ Tournament, Bike show, Beer Garden, Poker run, bands, concerts and food courts encompassed the fun-filled weekend. Rally-goers could not have asked for better weather…beautiful and high 70s.
Music headliners included Marcia Ball whose voice is both sweet and soulful, not to mention deeply rooted in Southern tradition. She performed at the Walton Arts Center Thursday night. Friday and Saturday night concerts included Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, John Kay & Steppenwolf, and Blue Oyster Cult. Foghat performed at the Arkansas Music Pavilion outside of town by the Northwest Arkansas Mall. Local bands played the main stage on Dickson Street. Kansas City’s own Nace Brothers played Saturday evening, putting on a fantastic show for the motorcycle enthusiasts who took over all available seating where standing room only remained. In fact, the people were standing three deep outside the entrance of the beer garden where security was only allowing 25 people in at a time. One in the Son Motorcycle Club manned the security backstage again this year, and extra police were called in for the weekend. According to Greg Mack, there were 56 arrests, and 53 of those were local people!
Bill Ramsey, BB & BBQ board member said, “I’ve never seen so many people along the parade route, and there were more bikes involved this year.” He also said, “Friday was the biggest Friday we have ever had. We also had increased sales from the beer garden and a larger turnout at the concerts. Overall, I think everything ran smoothly.”
In previous years we have attended, Thursday night on Dixon Street was pretty light in traffic, but this year when we rode down Dixon and saw all the bikes lined on both sides of the street for three blocks we knew this was going to be a huge rally.
Organizers moved a few events away from Dixon Street; the parade started at the Northwest Arkansas Mall on Saturday and ended on Dixon Street. I missed the parade because I was busy interviewing bike show contestants and judging the BIC BBQ contest
at the NWA Mall (you know a girl can only be in a couple places at one time!).
We had cruised out to the Mall on Thursday to check out the setup for the BBQ and Bike show. We ran into our friend Ruben Garza and his cooking crew of NWA Mobile Storage. They were busy creating bacon wrapped jalapenos with cream cheese, and wild turkey with bacon. I tasted Bodan for the first time, which is made by Zohoo’s and is a blend of sausage, rice, pork and liver product. It was served with a cracker and was quite tasty. A couple teammates were stirring up a jumbo-size pot of jambalaya that had quite a bite to it and a fabulous flavor. This team was definitely on a roll in preparing superb appetizers. Gosh, it was hard to leave their tent with all the delicious foods to sample, but I needed to get around to the other BBQ teams. Ruben invited our group to stop by on Friday night to feast on chicken, ribs, brisket, stuffed baloney, and Ruben’s famous baked beans. Ohhhh, how could we pass that up? My big decision was what would I have to cut out on interviews that night to make it back for the BBQ!
The smoke was swirling out of cookers as I made my way to other tents. I talked to BBQ organizer, Ron Autry, and he said they had 32 teams lined up for the Kansas City Barbeque Society sanctioned contest. This was the first year BBQ teams had a chance to compete in the Arkansas State Championship. Grand Prize was $3,600 and went to “Gotta Getcha Some” team from Ft. Scott, Arkansas. Their team has been grilling for about six years and started out like so many other cookers do, cooking for family and friends in the backyard. Reserve Champion, EJ’s BBQ from Madison, Alabama walked away with $2,500. Third place of $1,000 went to Fine Swine from Canadian, Oklahoma. Other teams, Huntin’ Harley, Smokin Jokers, ChoCho BBQ, Pigs in the Pokie, Pallbears BBQ came from various states to compete. There were several first timers, and others who have been competing for seven years or more, but all of them were there for the chance of showing the judges how well they could grill, and the hopes of taking home some winning cash.
The bikes started rolling in around 10 a.m. Saturday with owners doing last minute detailing of their proud machines. A riding diva, Michelle, pulled in on a Panhead replica. She rode in from Joplin, Missouri and her husband Frank built the 88 cubic inch bike. They don’t believe in trailering and rode the 200 miles to Fayetteville. Her bike had a 22 inch seat height and a 200 back tire. Frank’s bike is a CFZ West Coast Chopper, 100 SS motor, an all handmade tank and fender. BKP of North Carolina painted both bikes. This was Frank’s first attempt at building a bike, which took six to eight months (owning a machine shop probably expedited the project!). Michelle and Frank ride approximately 8,000-10,000 miles a year.
Sandwiched in between the showstopper choppers was, according to the owner, “the world’s smallest bike with all American parts.” It was a six-foot long Harley-Davidson model built by Mac Chandler, owner of Tontitown Machine & Cycle, Tontitown, Arkansas who told me the bike has a 1948 front end, scooter H-D tires and the motor is a 1961 super 10 H-D. It was made from only 100% American Harley parts, took one month to complete and was as cute as can be. One of Mac's other bikes, his Harley Hummer Super 10 took second place in the Vintage Class, right behind a very nice 1913 Indian motorcycle.
A few bikes down from the mini H-D, there seemed to be a large crowd gathering around one bike. I squeezed my way through and found myself standing in front of ”Hogzilla”!
This was the most unique, unusual design of a bike I have ever seen, and judging from all the oooh’s and ahhhh’s of the spectators, it was for them too. Cameras were flashing everywhere, and the crowd was getting bigger, but nobody was leaving. I was in a daze walking around the bike trying to take in the design, paint and accessories…it was the ultimate Razorback Bike! I visited with Robert Arledge, designer and builder of Hogzilla, as he finished polishing chrome. The project all began last year after the Fayetteville bike show. When Robert returned to his hotel room and turned in for the night, he awoke at 2:30 a.m. and began sketching a design. One idea led to another and ended seven months later as a true piece of art on two wheels. The assembly was done by Robert, Greg Dobyns and Marty Spiva.
Some of the details and craftsmanship included:
Pro Street Frame is a rigid 300 6 Up 5 Back, Accutronix forward controls and Triple Trees, MGS F4 Exhaust, Ultima 113 engine, Baker RSD 6-speed transmission, belt drive-BDL top fuel, wheels by Xtreme Machine, paint by Hanson’s Custom Painting and the machinist was Tommy Shirey-Alpha machine. The all-aluminum tank was made by Robert and Ray Salas, the shift linkage by Robert and Tri Star Customs.
All of the features of Hogzilla were done by making molds and forms, then hammering to create the nostrils, horns, teeth and other parts of the beast. The mounted Co2 tank provided an impressive display of smoke that emitted from the nostrils and the LED lights in the eyes made all of us take a few steps back. It was awesome! Robert took the bike to Washington, DC to the Veterans War Memorial, and he even tried to enter it in
a bike show at the Hot Springs, Arkansas H.O.G. event and they would not let him because it wasn’t a Harley. That is disappointing, not to be able to share such a wonderful piece of art, not to mention the tribute to the Razorbacks.
When I asked Robert how much money he had invested, he said, “Divorce level is here (raising his hand above his head), it’s right under that!” He said the whole process wasn’t about money; it was about friendship, Greg, Marty and Tommy being right there to help him create Hogzilla. He’s had several offers, and he will probably end up selling it, but will he build another one, I asked. “I love building bikes, but I don’t have a vision right now, but may build another one.” Until another brilliant idea surfaces, Robert will continue his day job as a funeral home director in Hot Springs, Arkansas.
The Stokes Air -Bikes, Blues & BBQ bike show first place winners were as follows:
Vintage Class - Bruce Holtan- Hanlontown, AR- 1913 Indian
Custom Class - Jamie Vangel- Joplin, MO- 2005 Pro Street Vangel Custom
Factory Class - Hak Stephens- Fayetteville, MO- 1994 Dyna Low Rider H-D
Touring Class - Richard Meiser- Horshoe Bend, AR-2001 Suzuki
Sport Class - Brent Gthery- Siloam Springs, AR- 2000 Kawasaki
Trike Class - Betsy Snider- Rogers, AR- 2005 FL H-D with sidecar
PEOPLE’S CHOICE Winner - Kevin Dutton- Coffeyville, TX- 2005 American Iron Horse Texas Chopper
Another event that took place at the Northwest Arkansas Mall was the Red Bull Motorcross. Rally goers had a chance to watch Tommy “Tomcat” Clowers in action, launching 35 feet in the air across an 80 foot gap! Tomcat is a seven-time X Games medallist. He performed stunts at the TNT Freestyle Motorcross event on Saturday. “Tomcat” started racing at the age of 8 years old, but didn’t start free-styling until about seven years ago.
I headed back over to Dixon Street for the Saturday night party, and it was in full swing by the time I got there. It was shoulder to shoulder for several blocks, and you almost felt suffocated, but a good suffocation! Backstage the crew was gearing up for the Harley-Davidson bike give-aways. The rally itself sold raffle tickets, and the Fraternal Order of Police sold tickets. Both winners ended up being quite a story! The backstage crew hoisted the 2006 H-D Dyna Wide Glide (donated by Cycle Connection H-D) up in the air with a pulley and then lowered it onto the stage for the drawing. With drum rolls the winning name of Milo Compton was drawn. Are you ready for this…he is 12 years old! His grandfather bought a ticket for him. They loaded it up on the trailer the next day to transport it home and they fired it up with Milo seated on it ….with a great big grin on his face. Even though it will be a few years before he can actually ride, what a prize and what fun he will have!
The FOP bike give-away was won by the same person who won last year, Jimmy Thompson from Centerton, AR. Unbelievable, but according to Greg Mack, “ Last year the guy came up to the booth and asked how many tickets had been purchased, and they told him, so he said, “Give me $400 worth.” This year he did the same thing, and he said, “Give me $300 worth,” and bingo…he won again. Wow, some people’s luck…I wonder if he bought a ticket in Oregon and had the 340 million Powerball ticket too!
The only negatives I really heard from party-goers were the cover charges (up to $10) some bars had on Saturday night, too many food vendors and not enough bike vendors. More food vendors were added this year because of the previous years’ lack of, and the long lines people waited in. Bikers stayed in hotel accommodations as far away as Eureka Springs, and Ft. Smith, Arkansas. The dates have been announced for 2006, and if you are thinking about going, you better get your reservations now! It will be held September 27-30, 2006.
Overall, the rally was a huge success, well organized, and a lot of fun. The festival organizers have retained Taylor Mack Advertising and Nelson Driver for the 2006 event. They have done an outstanding job on publicity, organizing the events, security and every other area that it takes to pull off a rally of this size. Congratulations Fayetteville!
Story & Photos by Goldie Arnold