Rides, Rallies and Events Recap

28th Annual A.B.A.T.E. of Iowa Freedom Rally - Algona, Iowa

Written by  September 1, 2012

The 2012 Freedom Rally was scheduled for July 5, 6, and 7 due to the mid-week Independence Day holiday. As I rode north, it was apparent that those who were heading for the rally had better be prepared for hot weather. I passed a time-and-temperature sign that indicated a sizzling 102 degrees. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I had missed the 2010 and 2011 events at Algona. Knowing that the Iowa A.B.A.T.E. organization constantly strives to make improvements at the rally grounds, I was expecting to see some changes. Sure enough, some significant enhancements had been made at Freedom Park during my two-hear hiatus.

The relocation of the first aid station from the vendor area to a new building near the shower house/security building was the first big change that caught my attention. The new state-of-the-art facility features three treatment bays, stainless steel scrub sinks, a four-seat waiting area, and a separate office area for the medical staff. The new location allows for more efficient ambulance access as well. Transport of patients from the grounds via Mercy Air Med helicopter can be quickly arranged if necessary.

The space vacated by the relocation of the first aid station is now occupied by a new monument dedicated to the memory of A.B.A.T.E. brothers and sisters who have passed on. At the base of the monument, there is a very nice v-twin bench that was donated by

Steve and Mariko, owners of Nunnikhoven Art Stone of Mediapolis, Iowa.

One of the bridges across the creek that runs through the park had been a bit of a bottleneck due to the mixture of significant motorcycle and pedestrian traffic. I was pleased to see that the bridge had been widened and a barrier had been added to separate the motorized traffic from those on foot. The crossing is now safer and quicker for everyone. An additional footbridge across the creek has been built at another location.

While much had changed, many aspects of the Freedom Rally remained just as I remembered them. The long Avenue of Flags is a magnificent reminder of the freedom we enjoy as American citizens. While riding through the park, it is obvious that this is a motorcycle rally. Only rally staff are permitted to use golf carts, quads, and the like. There is a separate R.V. area, so tent campers aren’t forced to endure the drone of generators through the night. A 32-page rally newspaper provided at the gate contained an event schedule, a greeting from State Director Phil McCormick, welcomes from each of the three Assistant State Coordinators, and interesting articles from committee members about various facets of the rally such as gate admission, security, first aid, public relations, vendors, events, maintenance, and more.

There is never a shortage of entertainment at the Freedom Rally. Events Coordinator Jess Tepner made sure there were plenty of bike games lined up for each day of the rally. As always, each afternoon featured A.B.A.T.E.’s version of a wet T-shirt contest referred to as the “Cool Down” with ladies competing in “Sportster” and “Big Twin” classes. There were 12 bands performing during the weekend along with G-Spot Entertainment in the hayfield.

Games on Thursday included drive-by shooting (with paintball guns, solo and two-up), beer race, barrel race, tire toss and tug-o-war. When a family emergency required Scary Jerry to leave on short notice, Moody came out of “retirement” to emcee the daily Cool Down competitions. Larry Myer, Rukkus, Boogie & the Yo-Yo’z, and Back Roads Band provided Thursday’s musical entertainment.

Friday’s bike rodeo events included sled pulls, more drive-by shooting, keg race, slow race, ball snatch, plank ride, wienie bite, and “Honey, I’m home.” Opening ceremonies began at 4:00 with Janet Berte singing our National Anthem followed by brief welcoming remarks from several dignitaries. Each year A.B.A.T.E. of Iowa respectfully honors the memory of members who have passed on since the preceding year’s rally with a solemn reading of the list of names. Of course, Friday’s Cool Down immediately followed the opening ceremonies. On this hot afternoon, the ice water drenching must have given the contestants a measure of relief. Clean Dean and Natanic of Easyriders/Biker Magazine fame were special guest water pourers and appeared to relish the honor. Wicked Drive, Saucy Jack, The Kentucky Headhunters, and Phil Vassar entertained on Friday. Thankfully, cooler weather moved in during the night resulting in more comfortable partying for the remainder of the weekend.

There were some great entries in Saturday’s bike show that was followed by the concluding rodeo events. Contests were held to choose the best tattoos and beards in various categories. Prior to the Saturday Cool Down, there were drawings for some terrific raffle prizes including a Northwinds resort vacation (winner Kim Nissen), an I-pad DKS (Michelle Jacobsen), a $500 Ernie Williams Harley-Davidson gift certificate (Stacy Johnson), an I-pad Touch (Colton Hoover) and the grand prize Harley-Davidson Street Glide (winner Steve Remus). The Saturday music line-up included Inglorious Hellcats, Crow, and Jackyl.

Sunday was getaway day, and I headed south under overcast skies. The same time-and-temp sign I noticed as I headed north now displayed a reading of 71—a decrease of 31 degrees from Wednesday! The clouds remained solid until I reached Cameron, Missouri, and the temperature remained comfortable until I passed through Liberty, only about 25 miles from home. I arrived with a great collection of photos and memories of another super Iowa party. Thanks go to Phil McCormick, the rally committee members, and the hard-working A.B.A.T.E. volunteers whose efforts are worthy of high praise.

In closing, I would like to recommend membership in motorcyclist rights organizations such as A.B.A.T.E. (A Brotherhood Aimed Towards Education) and F.O.R.R. (Freedom of Road Riders). There is work to be done in Washington and in every state to protect the rights of motorcyclists and oppose the enactment of unreasonable and unfair legislation. Your membership dues assist these organizations in their efforts to stand up for you. An additional benefit is a discount admission fee that is frequently offered to events such as the Freedom Rally.

Article and photos by Stripe


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 stripe@cycleconnections.com