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Road Trippin' to Oklahoma Bike Week 2013 - Sparks, Oklahoma

Written by  August 1, 2013

The 2013 version of Oklahoma Bike Week at Sparks America Campground ran from June 14 through 23. As usual, my schedule did not permit me to attend the entire event, but I was able to get away on Thursday, June 20, for a long weekend. This year, I was pleased to have editor Mike join me for his first visit to Sparks. With Mike on his Fat Boy and me on my Wide Glide, we headed south late in the morning.

After a gas stop in Joplin, we decided to drop by the local Harley dealership. We discovered that the name had changed from Cycle Connection to Hideout Harley-Davidson. That should eliminate occasional confusion resulting from the similarity of the names of the dealership and our magazine. We had planned a late lunch at the huge McDonald’s that straddles the Will Rogers Turnpike near Vanita, Oklahoma, but were disappointed to discover that the whole service plaza including the restaurant was closed for renovation. When we stopped at the nearby tollbooth, we agreed to look for a good place to eat in the Tulsa vicinity. Our meal was further delayed as we endured a major traffic jam on Interstate 44 near the east edge of Tulsa. After a fuel stop in Sapulpa just southwest of Tulsa we found a nice Mexican restaurant where our meal was more like dinner than late lunch thanks to the traffic delay. Arriving at Sparks America with plenty of daylight remaining, we made a quick stop at the campground office where I introduced Mike to Robert Butler, the owner of the facility and the host of Oklahoma Bike Week. After stetting up camp, I gave Mike a quick tour of the area including a ride on the Magic Bus, a retired school bus that provides transportation around the grounds throughout the event. We listened to live music for a while before calling it a day and retiring to our tents.

At Sparks America, it’s not the crowing of a rooster that greets a new day. Instead, we were awakened Friday morning by the shrill cry of the resident peacock. It’s a beautiful bird, but its voice is not pretty. Other close neighbors were a llama and a tame deer. It was my birthday, and I was happy to be spending it in the company of Mike and other friends. Daytime activities on both weekends of Oklahoma Bike Week centered around the “playground” where bike games and people games provide great entertainment for participants and spectators alike. Friday’s scheduled games included: plank race, drunk driving (not really drunk, just drinking a beer or water while riding a short distance between two kegs), blind man’s bluff, dizzy race, tampon race, quick start (find and start your bike while blindfolded), straw in the bottle, potato race (using tennis balls), pickle licking, tittie licking, newlywed game, Twinkie eating, and buff the woody (sand the paint off the handle of a plumber’s helper held between partner’s legs). Considerable riding skill was demonstrated during the bike competition, and the people games were just plain crazy! The Sparks America crew always does a great job of keeping the games organized and on schedule, and nice plaques are awarded to the first place winners.

After the games, Mike and I decided to ride to nearby Chandler and enjoy a meal in air-conditioned comfort, although there are very good food options at the campground. We made a quick stop at the local Wal-Mart for sun block, bug spray, and a few other items we had forgotten to pack for the trip. Mike also acquired a flotation device for use in the pond where many of the bikers gather to cool off during the rally. Live music began in the evening and continued into the night, and some adult on-stage competitions provided entertainment during the breaks. For me it was a great way to celebrate a birthday!

First on the Saturday schedule was a bike show put on by volunteers raising funds for the Motoring for Marfans charity seeking a cure for Marfan syndrome. There were lots of great entries in every class. I was particularly intrigued by the V-Rod that won the American Custom class, and I enjoyed visiting with owner Clint Loveland

The Saturday game schedule included the following: slow race, double slow race, men’s and women’s keg toss, men’s and women’s keg roll, weenie bite, cherry bite, and balloon toss. When the time came for the panty slide, there were not enough competitors entered to justify the effort required to roll out the slide, so that event was scratched. Bummer!!!

Everyone migrated from the playground to the dirt drag strip where lunatics, some dressed in shorts and flip-flops, competed in 100-foot drag races and tire drags. Following that wild competition, the crowd returned to the playground for a solemn ceremony, a memorial service for biker Bobby Jack Jackson, Jr. In accordance with his final wishes, Bobby’s vest was ceremoniously burned, and a container filled with his ashes was dragged around the Sparks America Campground behind Robert’s trike.

Prizes were awarded for longest hair (men and women), longest beard (men only), and best tattoos (men’s single color, men’s multi-color, women’s single color, women’s multi-color, and best overall). There were awards for longest trip to the rally and longest ride to the rally.

The final afternoon event was a charity auction of chainsaw art by Woody and an associate. Funds were raised for tornado victims in nearby areas. There was also a 50/50 drawing benefiting Bikers Against Child Abuse. The festivities beginning at 8 p.m. included more live music and craziness on stage.

The ride home on Sunday was hot but uneventful. An early start got Mike and I back home to the city early enough for us to get some work done on the July issue of Cycle Connections.

Sparks America hosts several big events each year. The biker Halloween party coming up October 24 through 27 features more of the same brand of fun enjoyed during Bike Week plus a costume contest with cash prizes. There will be a drawing for a 2014 Yamaha Bolt (950cc) from McAlester MotorSports with custom paint by Passionworks Body Shop. The winner will be drawn from the gate tickets on Saturday after Woody’s auction. You must be present to win, so come on out for a great time and a chance to take home a brand new ride. See photos on Sparks America's website .

Photos by Mike Schweder and Stripe.

Dedicated to the memory of B.J.


Photojournalist/Account Representative - Kansas City, MO

Dave Baxter, a.k.a. Stripe joined our staff in December, 2003, as a photojournalist. If that road name sounds familiar, you may have seen his photos on the pages of such publications as American Iron, V Twin, VQ, In the Wind, and Easyriders. Stripe attends as many rallies, bike shows, and charity runs as he can and is a major contributor of photos and articles to our magazine. His first assignment was our January, 2004, cover photo, where he snapped the awesome photo of a 1958 Harley-Davidson Duo Glide. A rider since the age of 14, he loves to help and encourage new riders. Stripe enjoys meeting new people and looks forward to catching many of our readers in the viewfinder of his digital camera. Contact Stripe at