Rides, Rallies and Events Recap

36th Annual ABATE of Kansas Labor Day Rally - Perry Lake, Kansas

Written by  September 30, 2011

It was late Friday afternoon when I headed for Perry Lake’s Paradise Point for the annual ABATE of Kansas Labor Day Rally. I looked forward to seeing my long-time friend Zick from Washington, Iowa. He had ridden down earlier in the day with his buddy Russ. Based on my arrival time, I anticipated a long line at registration. Sure enough, the line was long, but I enjoyed passing the time with the Consolvers and some other folks from the St. Joe area. I gave Zick a cellphone call and found out our campsite was along the tree line straight behind the big pink and white canopy belonging to the Cracker Crew. The sun was setting as I finished pitching my tent. As I walked toward the beer tent where I knew my friends would be waiting, I noticed that the number of vendors had continued to grow, and there were several more set up between the vendor area and the stage. Zick was taking full advantage of his vacation day and was exhibiting symptoms of excessive alcohol consumption by the time I got to the beer tent. Fortunately the bikes were parked for the day, so there would be no impaired riding. Friday night’s on-stage entertainment included Josh Vowell, Final Drive, and Backfire. It was not easy to get to sleep in the tent that night. The weather was extremely hot, and campers had generators running to power air conditioners. Our neighbors at the Cracker Crew tent were hosting their huge nightly party, welcoming anyone who was passing by to join them for music and karaoke.

Saturday morning dawned with a cloud-filled sky as a cold front was approaching. Late morning seemed like a good time to revisit the vendor area and observe the activities at the dunk tank. The girls who took turns on the platform would remove an article of clothing to reward anyone who could dunk them with three consecutive softball tosses. There were plenty of spectators to root for the throwers.

The Motorcycle Olympics field events began on time, but there it was obvious that the impending rainfall would bring the proceedings to an early close. Only the slow ride and keg roll contests had been completed when the rain became heavy enough to put the event on hold. The decision was soon made to postpone the remaining events until after Sunday’s bike show. Spectators took cover in the beer tent or returned to their own tents to sleep off hangovers. After the rain passed, the temperature was much more comfortable. The airbrush artist was kept busy, and lots of gals were displaying skin, painted or not, in exchange for beads. Saturday’s musical entertainment on stage included Jeff Lux, Eclipse Band, Paul Thorn, and Simply Driven. Our friends Mouse and Rhonda arrived from Dodge City late Saturday, and managed to party for a bit after setting up their tent. The temperature in tents was much more favorable for sleeping at the end of the day, and fewer generators were running. However, the music was still loud and there was the added noise of a couple in some nearby tent that were obviously getting great enjoyment out of each other’s company. Well, you don’t go to a motorcycle rally to sleep anyway.

Sunday’s bike show had great entries in every class (Asian, European, American, Rat, Trike, Touring, Sportster, Custom, Classic, and Antique). The field of entries featured a past Cycle Connections cover bike (November 2010-Tim Atkinson’s ’89 custom Harley FXR chopper) and a future one (Tom Schmidt’s ’08 CVO Springer that won a recent cover bike competition at the Brass Rail). This year’s antique lineup featured a Harley-Davidson Hummer in addition to Corvette Al’s ’42 Knuck and Dave’s Indian. The paint job on one of the Sportsters was dedicated to exotic dancers. The trailer behind a touring bike from western Kansas was decorated to resemble the prairie schooners of the area’s past.

After the bike show awards were presented, the Motorcycle Olympics resumed. Some of the bikers who entered on Saturday had headed for home, but there were plenty of riders remaining to make the competition interesting and fun. Sometimes I have trouble recruiting a partner for the team events, but this time I was lucky enough to find two, C.J. and Lisa, who alternated events. Balls-on-pylons was the first event. Then the bikes were parked during the five-person-shuffle (on boards). Tire toss and balloon toss followed. The weenie bite was especially challenging due to the dogs being hung a bit on the high side, and my partner Lisa was the only one who managed to get a bite on the first try. After several rounds to determine second place, the judges decided to lower the weenies a few inches, and that competition was soon concluded. Tire drags and barrel races were the final events.

Sunday evening stage entertainment featured The Breeze, Revelation, and Shawn Ward. The only items on Monday’s agenda were (a) packing bikes and (b) heading home. It was a good weekend, and, as always, the ABATE of Kansas volunteers worked their butts off to make sure everyone had a great time. Watch their website for information about next year’s rally, and remember that a membership in ABATE or other motorcycle rights organizations will get you a discount on tickets.

Article and photos by Stripe