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Reporter’s notebook: Bikes, Blues and BBQ virgin

By: 5 October 2010 4 Comments

FAYETTEVILLE–Most the time, reporters don’t place themselves in their stories. It’s just not done. There are times, however, when reporters become part of the story they are covering and openly share the information through their eyes. This is called a “reporter’s notebook.” Reporter’s notebooks are usually done in stories where there is little to no controversy being presented.

A reporter’s notebook is exactly how I’ve decided to share about one of the nation’s biggest bike rallies, Bikes, Blues and BBQ, which was Sept. 29-Oct. 2 in Fayetteville.

Let me start out by confessing something. I, Jamie Smith, have lived in Northwest Arkansas since January 2002 and have never attended this major event.

Not really sure why over all, but the reasons have changed over the years. I think the first few years I thought you had to have a bike to participate. That’s not true. There are plenty of events, food, booths and other stuff for non-bike enthusiasts to appreciate.

Later I thought it was a dangerous. You know, the whole biker stigma thing. I asked around and although there are some fights, it really is a family-friendly event. When I went last weekend, I saw less problems at this major bikers’ rally than I do on an average night on Dickson Street.

Then I just didn’t think much about it. I just knew Bikes, Blues and BBQ as the big event every year that brings thousands of noisy but neat-looking bikes to town. It makes traffic horrendous, but no worse than the twice-annual craft fair season (which is coming up soon, by the way!).

This year, I got my first ever invitation to check out this event and I accepted. I went with a couple friends to check it out on Oct. 1, a Friday night. It was packed!

From what I’ve heard, this year was record crowds for the 11-year-old event. I believe it. I’ve never seen Dickson that full nor have I had to park so far away. Parking is bad on Dickson (the entertainment district in Fayetteville for those in the state who are unfamiliar), but considering I use handicapped parking, it’s never been this bad.

So let’s take a look at what I saw.  (Quick disclaimer: I am a reporter, not a photographer. I also only have a basic digital camera. For the most part, these would not be print quality.)

Parking on Dickson is always scarce, but when you bring thousands of people in, it creates fundraising opportunities. Churches, businesses and other property owners charged a pretty penny to park right there on Dickson.

There were bikes and riders of all types, ages and uses. One thing I should note is that the guy in the front of this group is one of the only ones I saw at the rally actually wearing a helmet.

Many of the churches and businesses along Dickson Street embrace the rally, inviting the bikers to breakfast or offering to wash their bikes. To me, that added to the community feel.

I've never seen so many types and styles of motorcycles in one place.

All the bikers seem to enjoy collecting pins such as these for where they've been, etc. There was lots of other interesting merchandise to choose from including prints, t-shirts, etc.

A good number of bikes have flags on them, including those honor prisoners of war and the missing in action. Another common cause among the biker crowd seems to be B.A.C.A-Bikers Against Child Abuse.

Only at a bike rally would this sign be not out of place!

Many helmets weren't just for protection, they also had messages.

More rows of bikes

For appearance purposes, I like this style of bike the most. It looks more "cool" to me. But the idea of having my arms up that far for a long time sounds painful!

Along with plenty of interesting and different bikes, there was plenty of interesting people! This guy didn't seem to mind people taking his picture. He was one of three guys I saw who had some sort of animal on their heads.

The well-known logo for BBB ... along with a banner advertising one of the most popular aspects of the event: the food.

Besides the BBQ, there's plenty of other foods to choose from at BBB. My friends love the gyros!

I chose something that was new to me called a "Funnel Dog." Instead of dipping the hot dog on a stick in cornbread batter, they dip it in funnel cake batter. Just as greasy, perhaps more delicious. It was actually a little lighter than your standard corn dog. As gross as this sounds, I would have preferred that it was finished off with a bit of powdered sugar.

Couldn't help but shoot a picture of this as we were leaving. Apparently motorcycles weren't the only interesting vehicle there.

A few final thoughts …

I didn’t think there was any more danger or chaos at BBB than any other large event that involves alcohol. That said, it is thousands of people, many who are drinking, all in one place. If you attend next year, be wise. Don’t go alone (it’s much more fun with friends, I would think). Wear comfortable shoes. If you see a fight starting to brew, walk away. You won’t have any trouble finding law enforcement as they have officers from surrounding communities there to help out.

Next year, come up the I-540 and join us! Northwest Arkansas would love to have you as our guest.

For more information and pictures, visit http://www.bikesbluesandbbq.org/

About: Jamie Smith:
Experienced reporter who is now an entrepreneur. Jamie's Notebook offers writing services including press releases, corporate blogging and feature writing.

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