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2017 Bikes, Blues & BBQ Rally - Fayetteville, Arkansas

Written by  September 30, 2017

I hadn’t been to Fayetteville, Arkansas for the Bikers, Blues, & BBQ motorcycle rally (BBB) for several years, so when I found out our good friend Mark Kozak was planning to drive his motorhome down and pull a trailer with a few of his bikes in it, I decided we were way overdue for hitting this rally once again. Nichole and Stripe had never been to Fayetteville before, and JO was excited to go again. Our friend Cajun, his daughter Stephanie, and her boyfriend Rob were also planning to attend this year, so it had the makings for a very fun weekend!

Mark headed down on Wednesday to setup camp at the Washington County Fair Grounds and called to tell me he’d secured a great spot. The great thing was that he was also holding a site next to him for our motorhome, which was awesome! The only downside; we’d be “dry camping,” which for you non-RVers, means no hook-ups for electricity, water, sewer…nothing! We’ve been RVing for some time now, but we’d only stayed at RV parks with full hook-ups. Yes, we’ve been spoiled! Oh well…I guess it’s time to fill up the fresh water holding tank, top off the propane tank, fill up the gas tank, and fire up the generator so we’d have electricity, air conditioning, all the conveniences of home…sort of. Plus, to add to the fun, the weather forecast was calling for “unseasonably warm days,” even though it was the first days of fall. As it turned out, they weren’t kidding! It was friggin’ hot!

Getting ready to head south!So on Thursday morning, September 21, 2017, we hooked Stripe’s motorcycle trailer to the back of our motorhome, loaded my Fat Boy aboard, cinched her down, and headed south. JO and Stripe rode their bikes in front of us (brave riders), and for the first time, I was an official “trailer pussy!” Well, not really, because I’m the only one who can drive our motorhome, and the only way to get my bike to the rally was to trailer it behind the RV. Needless to say, I caught a lot of crap from all my riding buddies who I’d called trailer pussies over the years, even just the previous month when we all rode (and trailered) up to Sturgis. I even have a “Nice Trailer, Pussy!” T-shirt I like to wear when riding to the rallies. Everyone made me bring it so they could put it on for a few candid photos of me and my bike on a trailer. A-holes!

For those of you who have never made it to the BBB rally, I’ll give you a little background on what you’re missing. Fayetteville is located in Northwest Arkansas in the Ozark Mountains, and is home to the University of Arkansas. So what does this mean? Lots of beautiful scenic riding during the day and lots of partying at night! There are also many great scenic rides through the mountains in and around Fayetteville, so you have to do some serious planning if you expect to hit a few of them.
Set up at camp. Ready for a cold one!
On Thursday, we setup camp, fired up the grill, and Nichole made chicken burritos for everyone. After a few drinks, we decided to play it safe that night, so we hopped on the shuttle bus which took us from the campground to Dixon Street. Dixon Street is the central hub of BBB, which reminds me a lot of Main Street in Sturgis. All during the day and night, bikes line the streets in front of the bars and shops. The bars in this town are very cool and most of them feature large open courtyards in back, which is a bonus for those of us who prefer the sun and moon over our heads rather than a roof. Each bar competes for your attention by offering lots of great local musical entertainment. After all, this is a college town, so quality nightlife is a must!

I’ve been to a lot of rallies, and BBB is without a doubt one of my favorites. Not only is it close to home (about 4 hours away), but they also have a lot of great vendors and a huge beer garden/main stage area with a line-up of many great bands who play almost continuously during the entire rally. After a couple hours of checking out the entertainment, we decided to climb back aboard the shuttle and head back to the campground for a good night’s sleep. As it turns out, the evenings cooled down enough to turn off the generator and air conditioners and open the windows of the RV. Yeah!

Heading to Eureka Springs!On Friday morning, Nichole was up at the crack of dawn making breakfast and coffee for everyone. We also made contact with Cajun, Stephanie, and Rob, who agreed to ride to our campground from their hotel in Bentonville. Once they arrived, we all mounted up and took a nice scenic route to Eureka Springs, which is one of our favorite places to visit while at the rally. Our first stop was at The Cat House Lounge, which is a popular two-story bar, where all the bikers hang out. Although it was crowded, Cajun and his posse managed to find a couple tables next to the huge rock wall overlooking the band. This turned out to be the best seat in the house…or rather, the best seat in the courtyard.

Hangin' at The Cat House in Eureka Springs!After a few adult beverages we decided to follow Cajun to a catfish restaurant he’d told us about. Unfortunately, the place was no longer in business, and since we were already salivating for catfish, Cajun led us on to a place in Bentonville called the Flying Fish. This was a pretty good size place, and they had a huge menu covering the entire wall at the back of the restaurant, offering about any type of seafood you could dream of. Great job Cajun! You redeemed yourself. After filling our bellies with fish, Cajun and his crew rode back to the hotel, which was only a few blocks away, and Mark, JO, Stripe, Nichole and I headed back to camp for the evening. What a fun day!

On Saturday morning, Nichole once again prepared a nice breakfast for everyone, and the plan today was to ride back down to the beer garden on Dixon Street to cheer for Mark and his rat bike with sidecar, which he was entering in the bike show. The Stokes Air Battle of the Bikes is a ride in bike show with winners named in a variety of categories.  After the initial bike show, they select the top three entrants from each group and conduct a “people’s choice” competition called “The Battle of the Bikes.” Bikes of various types go head to head with audience reaction determining the winner.  That part of the contest is presented by V-8 Choppers and Laramie LaFarge, the world’s greatest bike show Emcee.  The winners of each category receive a very cool BBB Battle of the Bikes wall plaque, and the overall bike show winner claims an enormous BBB Battle of the Bikes championship belt, which is similar and just as gaudy as a pro wrestler’s belt. Very cool! For the people’s choice, they go by crowd participation, which is basically everyone yelling for their favorite bike between the two competitors. They have some sort of sound level meter onstage, which is monitored by a staff member.  Our group and the rest of the crowd cheered Mark’s rat bike on to an easy victory, as he took 1st place in the Radical Custom class.

Mark takes 1st place in the Radical Custom classMark then moved on to the next head to head competition with a bike that was built by Memphis Motorcycles. This bike was built to look like a rat bike, but it really wasn’t. It had, what I believe was a Harley-Davidson Evo motor, and although it was a pretty cool bike, it wasn’t even close to being as cool as Mark’s real rat bike. When the emcee asked the crowd to cheer for the Memphis Motorcycles bike, there was a pretty good cheer; however, when the emcee pointed to Mark’s bike, the place erupted at an ear-splitting decibel. It was quite obvious that Mark’s bike had won the competition; however, for some reason the person monitoring the sound level meter asked for a redo. OK…once again, the cheer for Mark’s rat bike was clearly much louder than the noise made for the competitor. The emcee announced that Mark’s bike had won, and the owner of the Memphis Motorcycles bike walked over, congratulated Mark, and shook his hand. Then…believe it or not, the emcee announced they needed to have everyone cheer one more time. Everyone in the crowd stood there looking at each other with a clear expression of “WHY?” on their faces. So everyone cheered again, Mark’s bike got a much larger response for a third time, and this time the person holding the sound level meter pointed to the Memphis Motorcycles bike as the winner. Everyone in the crowd started booing because it was obvious this was RIGGED! I mean it wasn’t even close, and Mark’s bike was the obvious winner.

Therefore, if you attend the BBB Rally in the future, and plan to enter your bike in this POS bike show, I highly encourage you to NOT! This was the most corrupt bullshit bike show competition we’ve ever witnessed, and believe me; we’ve been to a lot. After they gave the win to Mark’s competitor, several people in the crowd we didn’t even know walked up to Mark and voiced their opinion that the show was BS, and was obviously rigged. Lots of people in the crowd, including us, were extremely pissed! I’m not sure if someone was paid off, or if someone blew someone the night before, but this was the worst case of bike show corruption I have ever seen. Therefore, whoever rigged this bike show can blow it out their ass! OK…now that I got that off my chest, let’s move on!        

After the rigged bike show (OK, I guess I’m still not quite over it), we made our way up Dixon Street so everyone could look through the vendor tents and buy a BBB T-shirt. We then went in search of a bar that had enough room for our group to sit or stand together for a drink. Every bar was packed, so we eventually decided to make our way up the street and down a narrow path off the main drag, and across the RR track to a place we’d eaten at years ago called the Powerhouse Seafood & Grill. This is a very cool restaurant and bar, which is just far enough off Dixon Street that not many visitors even know it exists. It’s really too bad for the restaurant that they don’t have more traffic during the rally, but it was great for us because we didn’t have to wait to be seated! So make note, if you want great food and drinks, and don’t want to wait a couple hours to be seated in one of the many restaurants on Dixon Street, look for the Powerhouse. You won’t be disappointed!

After eating, we decided we’d had enough fun and frustration for the day (because of the corrupt bike show…I’m almost over it…really!), we all rode back to the campground for a few more drinks. Rob and Stephanie went back to their hotel room to regroup, and rode back to our campground to play our favorite card game 31. It costs you only $3 to play, and is a lot of fun. If you’ve never played it before, just Google the rules and give it a try. I promise you and your friends will be hooked on this game just like we are! Nichole and JO were the big winners of the night, and after the games ended, everyone went to bed…except for Rob and Stephanie, who I believe, rode back down to Dixon Street (must be nice to be young again), and Mark and JO who sat outside the RV until the wee hours of the night drinking who knows what?

On Sunday morning Nichole made breakfast for everyone one more time, and with a slight (yeah right!) hangover, we packed everything up and headed home. With the exception of a rigged bike show, we had a great time, and can’t wait to do it again…except for the bike show. Now I’m definitely over it! LOL

Photos by Mike Schweder, Nichole Schweder, & Stripe

Mike Schweder

Editor-in-Chief - Kansas City, MO

Mike is the original founder of Cycle Connections Online Motorcycle Magazine and an avid motorcycle enthusiast. He has been riding for over 40 years, belongs to several local and national motorcycle organizations and travels to numerous rallies and events throughout the US each year. Mike has been a writer and editor for many years and has a passion for sharing his motorcycling experiences and stories with you. Contact Mike at mikes@cycleconnections.com