If ever there was a winning formula for a motorcycle rally, it’s Bikes, Blues & BBQ (BBB). Start with an abundance of incredible riding opportunities through Arkansas’ beautiful Ozark Mountains, add in a healthy dose of harmonica-driven blues spilling out of just about every joint on Dickson Street, then top it off with a biker staple of finger-lickin’ BBQ provided by some of the best cooks around and you’ve got a winning rally recipe.
The 16th annual Bikes, Blues & BBQ rally takes place September 23-26 in Fayetteville, Arkansas, home to college football’s Razorbacks. Last year, it’s claimed over 400,000 people attended the increasingly popular event. And while motorcycle enthusiasts show up from the four corners to enjoy scenic rides, great music, good food and friendly people, Bikes, Blues & BBQ prides itself on the money it raises for local causes. As a designated non-profit organization, the rally reportedly has donated over $600,000 to local charities over the years to beneficiaries like the Fayetteville Boys & Girls Club, Washington County Meals on Wheels and 7 Hills Homeless Shelter. It also provides a big financial boom to businesses in the area, from hotels to restaurants to gas stations.
A steady stream of motorcycles flow up and down Fayetteville’s Dickson Street during the Bikes, Blues & BBQ Rally.
The bike side of the equation features the Stokes Air Battle of the Bikes Saturday at the Bikes, Blues & BBQ Beer Garden on Dickson Street. Custom motorcycles in 10 categories, from Radical Custom to Bagger to Unique, will contend for the coveted Battle of the Bikes Championship Belt. The Ozark Vintage Motorcycle Association is holding a vintage bike show. There’s a “Parade of Power” motorcycle parade, a VIP ride hosted by Jack Daniels in addition to poker runs.
For riders unfamiliar with the area, poker runs are a great way to have a little fun while exploring the region. Local firefighters are hosting poker runs Friday and Saturday, one to Eureka Springs, one to Devils Den. The runs are put on by the Fayetteville chapter of The International Association of Fire Fighters who donate funds raised to Camp Sunshine, a summer camp facility for children who are burn victims. Camp Sunshine is “a place where they are like everyone else and can simply have a good time, make friends, and enjoy all the things that other children enjoy without bearing the stigma of looking different.”
The BBQ portion of the event begins Friday night with the “People’s Choice” competition at the Washington County Fairgrounds. They take their BBQ serious in these parts. Last time we attended BBB over 40 teams participated and you could almost taste the Q in the smoky air. As the name suggests, people get to cast a vote for their favorite grillers. And while there will be plenty of finger-lickin’ goodness going on Friday night, it gets serious Saturday as the fairgrounds hosts the KCBS Arkansas State Championship with $3000 going to the Grand Champion and $1000 awarded to Reserve Champion.
On the music side, Kansas City Blues diva Samantha Fish brings her talents to the Main Stage at the Dickson St. Beer Garden Wednesday night. A steady rotation follows, more blues riffs provided by Leah and the MoJo Doctors, Steve Pryor, and the Ocie Fisher Band. And while blues is the theme, a variety of musical acts are scheduled to play throughout the festival, from ‘80s-style hair bands to country. Stroll up and down Dickson Street and sooner or later you’re sure to find someone playing music that suits your party needs.
Other popular attractions include the Miss BBB Contest. The winner will win the handsome sum of $1000, the Miss Bikes, Blues & BBQ finals scheduled for Saturday night on the Main Stage of the Dickson Street Beer Garden. For riders interested in hitching a leg over the latest motorcycles on the market, Yamaha, Harley, Victory and Indian are offering demo rides at the rally’s Baum Stadium location. If that’s not enough, there’s a classic car show, demolition derby, vintage flat track races, lawn mower pulls and a concert by Kid Rock at the AMP in Rogers.
Demo ride anyone??
Check in with Motorcycle USA next weekend as we roll up to Fayetteville from Austin, Texas, on a 2016 Indian Chieftain. We’ll let you know how things are going in Arkansas and post up pictures from the scene. As we know lots of people will be riding to the 2015 Bikes, Blues & BBQ rally, take note that the Pig Trail (Hwy 23) north of Ozark from I-40 is closed because a big section of the road got washed out during spring rains. That’s the way we rode up to Fayetteville last time we attended BBB, so we wanted to pass on the word that this particular stretch is still closed, so seek an alternate route.