This was only my second year being involved with the Expo. Now that I live in London, and with the Show Director, I’m steeped in it. But I’m sure I only know a fraction of what it actually takes to arrange more than 100 exhibitors, 170 custom bike owners, and all of the details that go into filling the Agriplex and Arena with entertainment for three straight days.
Setting up the show a couple of days before opening has a circus-like feel to it. Huge trucks are backing in through giant rolling doors and unloading their cargo. Pipes are being assembled and drapes are being hung. Guys are rolling out, taping and vacuuming huge swaths of red carpeting. Motorcycles are lined up and tagged and polished. Vendors’ wares must be unpacked and hung on racks that have been pushed into place. Awnings and canopies are being unfurled and propped overhead. Power and phone lines are being checked, Last minute details? There’s no such thing! Details are being dealt with all through the show. That’s part of my job – to be available to exhibitors who need “stuff”. I’ll find you the tallest ladder or a bunch of elastics because you ran out of proper price tag clips or a magic marker or how to hook up to the office printer or whatever else it is you need to make you a happy camper while you’re on the bike show campground.
The Zero motorcycle was a huge hit! It’s the emission-less, soundless electric bike that everybody wanted to ride.
The trials performers drew large crowds into the arena. They’re adept at climbing their bikes over obstacles like cars, tires and stairs, without needing to put a foot down for balance. Amazing.
The Orange County Choppers tickled viewers of American Chopper. The kids loved playing Guitar Hero. Geoff Pollard’s record breaking Top Fuel drag bike dropped jaws and picked up some awards. It’s wonderful to see faces from years past, like Tina and Attila from Freak N Leather and the guys from Power Garage. The Goldwing Road Riders Association won best display (they are nearly impossible to beat!) again this year – they set up a Hawaiian paradise complete with women (and men!) in grass skirts, palm trees and a tropical atmosphere around their beautiful bikes. The charity ride organizers have hearts of gold as they encourage leisure riders to join them for great causes. The CAV (Canadian Army Veterans) brought veterans from Parkwood Hospital through the show and brought them a lot of bike-riding memories and happiness. This year we had live tattooing on site led by Ned and his team at Endless Boundaries, along with True Love and Perfect Image. They had some pre-booked appointments to work on major pieces, which fascinated passersby. Swap meet vendors made deals on vintage and hard to find bike parts while chainsaw artist Robbin Wenzowski carved another masterpiece out of a tree stump outside.
My sister in volunteer-hood, Kerry and I did our bike show shopping on Sunday morning and picked up a few tank tops and T-shirts and in Kerry’s case, a gorgeous Harley spring riding jacket at a ridiculous bargain price. I also bought sunglasses and we dropped by the Harrison ice cream stand for the best ice cream I’ve ever had. I remembered it from last year and couldn’t resist. It has to be 98 percent fat to taste so good but I don’t even care!!
You don’t have to be a rider to enjoy the Harley Davidson clothing. It’s reasonably priced and very well made to fit actual, live women – not stick figures. The stuff lasts. I have some of their footwear, tops and even socks and a friend of mine buys their jeans. So when Rocky’s brings its bargain racks to the Expo, you can be sure I’ll be rifling through them at some point during the show.
Attendance was up (I don’t have actual figures but it’s obvious to us all) and enthusiasm was at an all time high. I’m happy for Derek and his team because I know exactly how hard they all work to bring everyone together. I don’t know how these vendors do it – the ones who aren’t local, who pack up and move on to another city for next weekend and set up all over again. It’s an exhausting life but one they must love. And thank goodness they do it. Thank goodness as well for the local motorcycle dealers and offshoot businesses who support the show year after year by coming to make it so fascinating and fun for those who come to it. What a blast. Now I’m just looking for a good footrub……