Rides, Rallies and Events Recap

Swamp Thang’s 8th Annual Spooks & Skoots Rally - Fairmount, Georgia

Written by  December 31, 2005

Fairmount, Georgia, October 27-30. This cool Saturday morning I made a run to Swamp Thang's 8th Annual Spook and Scoots This always takes place on Halloween or the weekend before Halloween. This is one of the last old time rallies that still takes place in the state. This rally is located about halfway between Atlanta and Chattanooga, Tennessee. I remembered to take Highway 53 west from Fairmount for about four miles to Mauldin Road. This is a three-mile long curvy road with no houses on either side. I was thinking this was how some of those scary movies started. Finally, I made a left turn and over the hill and I was there. The dirt track was way back in a hollow in the mountains. I have heard that to find out about this event you have to be born in this section of the mountain or see the flyer. The hidden hollow that the dirt drag racing is held in is marked by a small 1 x 1 foot hand-painted sign. I found out that the track and camping area was under about 10 feet of water a couple of months ago. It took about two weeks for the water to go down to work on the Swamp. This made the track even dustier than ever.

I am beginning to think there is no other road in the state of Georgia except Highway 53 to ride your bike. I have told you very little about Highway 53. I like to ride this highway to get to events in the northwest section of Georgia. This old mountain road has a couple of names. One is the Federal Highway and the other is “Nunna Daul Tsuny” which is Cherokee for “The Trail of Tears” or “The Trail Where They Cried.” This mountain road runs west through the north Georgia mountains through Jasper.

I will tell you about some of the pit-stops and about some of the history of the places along Highway 53 that helped build the character of this old road. Watkinsville is the beginning of Highway 53 and is near the home of the Georgia Bulldog football team at the University of Georgia in Athens. I headed north to Winder, Georgia through some of the best farming land in the state, in my opinion. I made a stop in Hoschton and Braselton. Braselton is the town that Kim Basinger bought for an investment. After a short pit stop at the truck stop on I-85 (which I needed very badly) I continued on my journey. Dawsonville is the next little town with a very unusual city hall. To me it looked just like a small town in itself. I always like to stop at Dawsonville Pool Room for one of their great hotdogs. Dawsonville is the home of Bill Elliot, one of my favorite NASCAR drivers. He is known as "Awesome Bill from Dawsonville." Tate is a small mining community 15 miles west of Dawsonville. Colonel Sam Tate found a rare bright pink marble and had always referred to it as "Etowah" marble. In the early 1900s he began to mine hundreds of large blocks for the construction of Tate House. The Tate House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Anyway - back at the Swamp, one of the events that I thought was funny as all get out was Dress the Dummy. This is when some teams of bikers take turns running to a box and picking a piece of clothing to put on the dummy. The first team that gets the dummy dressed completely and back over the starting line wins. Also, there was something new this year in the field events. Two bikers would ride one of those rug rat tricycles halfway down the track, chug a beer and then race to the finish line. All the bikers started to laugh during the beer chug motorcycle race. Melissa just sat casually drinking her beer as everyone cheered her on. She told the crowd that she just wanted the free beer and wasn't worried about the time.

Most of the events were just regular bike games. Slow race and the old favorite of everybody is the weenie bite contest. Stacy was the winner while riding behind Tinker. These two events must be the standard bike games around the state.

When I attend a rally, I always meet what I call a real biker like Kent Shott and his girlfriend Trish Wilson of Clarkesville. To me a real biker is one that lives and breathes biking. They love their old lady or old man more than anything in the world but manage to love their bike a little more. I talked with them for almost an hour about biking. Some time the stories I hear about biking will make you laugh and others will make you cry. Real old time bikers are a dying breed. Like most good things in life, there will be a time these bikers will disappear from biking.
I have slept on the side of the road, in cheap motels and some hotels that I could not afford. This old biker began to understand more each year what it meant to have good friends. Danny and Jana Godfrey of Jasper is one of the many biker couples I have become friends with on the road. I am glad that they offer me a place to crash when I am working in northwest Georgia. It is always good to have a warm dry bed and be around good friends. They make it hard to go back eating in the parking lot of Ingles Markets.

I was walking around taking pictures of different bikes and bikers. I saw this big green John Deere 950 tractor sitting off in the woods by itself running. To my surprise, I found out the tractor was running a generator that supplied the electricity for the rally. I saw smoke coming from the shaft. Swampy (Steve Cantrell) was about to lose power to rally. Swampy, the promoter, and Dean Stern started working on the shaft. They replaced the shaft that was connected from the tractor to the generator. The power was lost for just a short time.

Swampy hired a band called Heritage from Cartersville to play Saturday night. The band played all types of music from Blues to Country. The air was as cold as a witch’s tit in a wire bra by 8 p.m. I couldn't tell you whether the bikers liked the bon fire or the band. People kept moving from the fire to the stage all night. Everyone did get little closer to the stage and each other during the tattoo contest. I can tell you that the beer that night was some of the coldest beer I have had all year. This would have been a great night to have a wet T-shirt contest!

Well, Sunday morning at 11 a.m. church service was held and I understand that Swampy had an awesome bike show at noon. I wish I had something to tell you about it or at least one of the two. I think I was still in bed or on the way back to Swamp Thang's. The truth is I was still eating that great breakfast that Jana had cooked for everyone. I did get to make it in time to see some of the dirt drag racing Sunday before I rode back home. I took some pictures but the dust didn't help things.

Steve (Swampy) and Kimberly Cantrell (Burley), the event coordinators, were always working at some location during the rally. Swampy would like to keep the rally to a size of less than a thousand bikers. What I can see is this is going to be a hard thing to do. Swamp Thangs's was a righteous event. Next year you need to check this dirt drag event out. - I hope to catch you in the road next time.

Story & Photos by Tommy Pittard