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7th Annual Cabin Fever Bash

Written by  April 30, 2005

It’s often said that the biker community is one of the most charitable groups of folks you’ll find. One of the key components of this benevolence in the Kansas City area is the Employee Riders Association (ERA) from the Harley-Davidson Assembly Plant in Platte County, Missouri. For the past seven years, this group has kicked off their fund-raising efforts at the start of the riding season with their annual Cabin Fever Bash.

The ERA's rallying efforts for many local charities are considerable. As significant players in the annual Bikers for Babies® Ride since 1998, they have donated more than $50,000 and provided key volunteer support to help the March of Dimes mission of saving babies' lives. The ERA riders are instrumental in helping keep this local event the largest March of Dimes Fundraising event in the nation! Penny Sharp, co-chair for the Kansas City Bikers for Babies Ride, said this about the ERA; 'They are absolutely fabulous, and the best group of people that I work with. They just continue to go out of their way to help us out!'

On the cool Saturday night of April 2, many members rode their bikes to the Beaumont Club in Westport. The presence of the gleaming hardware out front was an impressive sight! As the kick-off party for the year, their overall objectives are simple; raise as much money for as many of Kansas City’s charitable organizations as possible, most notably the March of Dimes and Muscular Dystrophy Association, and have fun while doing it! The evening entertainment included live music from three different groups, a mechanical bull riding contest, thousands of dollars in door prizes, a raffle for a new set of Weld Wheels, lots and lots of food and plenty of friendly folk, each of which contributed a minimum $10 to be present.

The party started shortly after 6:30 p.m. with the hard rock band Crisis taking the stage. This three piece group, with guitarist Lonnie West, drummer and vocalist Steve Kuker and bassist and vocalist Chris Meyers, puts out an incredible volume of music, tightly played and with a sound presence not usually associated with trios. Their sets of many metal tunes, both old and new, as well as some of their own songs, have made them favorites at ERA parties. On this occasion, they certainly wowed the crowd. Their top notch performances of cover songs always get people on the dance floor! As a guitar enthusiast myself, Lonnie is awesome! He rips and wails away with incredibly fast hands and with outstanding commitment to the original leads, note for note, including an astute awareness in matching the sounds of those songs. After seeing this band, I’m convinced they are well on their way to becoming one of KC’s most respected hard rock groups.

Next on stage was Hank Rotten Junior and partner Allan Ross with a satirical and hysterical blend of unique comedic songs which they accompany with their acoustic guitars. Their raunchy lyrics and catchy stories have been played at some of the biggest bike rallies in the county, including Sturgis and Daytona. They had the crowd rolling with songs like “Sleeping with My Butt Against the Wall” based on the fears of a prisoner and “Dope Addict” with lines like, “My brother’s in jail and I just snorted his bail.” If one were to mix Jeff Foxworthy with Jim Stafford and a bit of David Allen Coe, you’d begin to get the picture. Based out of Arkansas, they didn’t hesitate to make fun of their home state, or anyone else’s for that matter. They fed off each other the entire time and were truly talented and entertaining!

The final act of the evening was the multi-talented Racy Grace. This five piece band, based out of KC, was the opening act at last summer’s Biker Ball, and will play at this year’s Spirit Fest. Performing in many regional venues as well, they played a large variety of newer and classic rock music and some outstanding composures of their own. Led by vocalist and lead guitar player, Dave Thomas and keyboardist and vocalist, Kathy Nagel, they provided an excellent top-off to the show. The dance floor remained packed throughout their sets!

For those interested in more than just great music, a mechanical bull riding contest was held, with nice trophies for both the men and women who could survive the longest. Throughout the night, there was always a big gathering around the pit, cheering on the contestants. But, no empathy for the pain was present! In my opinion, keep the trophy and save yourself from the days after soreness and throbbing that typically results from a few seconds on a man-made bull.

In between sets and bands, ERA President Chad Speiser and VP, George Young, handed out door prizes worth thousands! The merchandise and certificates had been provided by a long list of sponsors that ERA members have successfully networked with over the years in their fund-raising efforts. Prizes included a new H-D leather jacket, various riding gear, T-shirts, gift certificates for tattoos, food and drinks, and lots of other stuff. A raffle was also held for a new set of $2,500 custom wheels, donated by Weld Wheels. The sponsorship for this event included: Worth Harley-Davidson North, Weld Wheels, The Brickyard Tavern, Thunder Roads Magazine, Skin Illustrations Tattoo Shop, River City T’s, Hooters, the Beaumont Club, Crisis, and radio stations 98.9 the Rock and 99.7 KY.

It was evident that spring was in the air! Everyone danced, celebrated and enjoyed the food. As a first time participant, I must say that the ERA, in addition to being outstanding at fund-raising, truly knows how to throw a party! The entertainment was great, the food was plentiful, and the people were awesome! Everyone I met was outgoing, friendly and ready for a picture.

I’m sure looking forward to ERA’s next party, and all the fun that will surely be had!

Story and photos by Nic