By Cathy Bonner and P. Ann Flanagan
The Parsons Advocate
Bike lovers from as far north as Canada and as far west as San Diago, California, joined many from all places in between as they converged on Camp Kidd Park the weekend of June 8-10. This is the ninth year for the “Big Mountain Run” and the fifth year it has been held at Camp Kidd Park. Old school guys having a blast with old school bikes, many they built themselves. The weekend is sponsored by Cycle Source Magazine.
Motorcycle enthusiasts were treated to a musical event as “ Stone Senate” performed on stage Saturday evening. They brought their unique talent all the way up from Nashville. Bikers enjoyed the weekend touring the back roads of Tucker County as well as a full schedule of games and activities, and of course eating was a big part of the weekend with meals provided by Mt. State Expo-Catering.
The Big Mountain Run could be called “BMR International,” as there were riders from Australia, Europe, Africa and many from Canada as well as Alaska, Hawaii and most of the lower 48 at Camp Kidd June 7 – 10. An extremely diverse group of hundreds of people who, in addition to their various professions, ride motorcycle, converged on Tucker County again this year for BMR9. Whether building/rebuilding bikes is their trade or (as for most) just a serious hobby, there is a camaraderie, a respect and a shared admiration for all things motorcycle. Harley-Davidsons prevail, and the older, the better—Pan Heads, Knuckleheads, etc., but also some British, European and Italian bikes, mini-bikes, side cars, and even some old Indians! The Big Mountain Run, sponsored by Cycle Source Magazine, and originally held in Tennessee and North Carolina, has chosen West Virginia for five consecutive years.
Of those attending, the median age is probably around 50-55, but there are a few young families. Because it is naturally a very loud venue, children always wear ear plugs or noise-canceling head phones/ear protection. Those living within earshot of the rally are good to put up with the sounds for three days. According to one resident, “Given the boost to the local economy, it is a small price to pay. These guys do a lot of traveling around the area and buy many tanks of gas. The restaurants do well, and the servers do quite well because these riders are very good tippers! They often bring families back to the visit the area at other times, after they have seen what we have to offer.”
Nancy Dotson manages the catering/food service part of Mountain State Expo Services, serving breakfast and dinner daily in the dining hall kitchen. The kitchen is also where the “fast food,” snacks and sweets are prepared for the concession area, which is closer to the day’s events. The food is quite appropriately shuttled from the kitchen to the concession stand on a 1965 Harley-Davidson golf cart.
As for the people who came, each has his own story. One couple came from the mid-west and broke down twice. They spoke of how, in places with little or no cell service, bikers are really at the mercy of the locals. In both cases, their “Good Samaritans” had a working knowledge of mechanics, tools and a pleasant willingness to help them get back on the road. These bikers were sold on West Virginia hospitality as well as the scenery and the event itself. They plan to come back.
Strangely enough, a potential Las Vegas real estate deal began at Camp Kidd when Arleen from Las Vegas mentioned she was looking for a house, and someone had a house for sale in Las Vegas!
Willy has come every year that BMR has been in West Virginia. He is a photographer and camera man. Willy will be retiring after 46 years with the same Richmond, Virginia TV station, and after next year’s BMR, he will be riding motorcycle throughout India.
Thursday night is always open-mic night on the stage, then Friday and Saturday nights bring bands beginning around dark. This year’s act on Saturday night was “Stone Senate” who came up from Nashville. They were a big hit. Ronnie Shaffer with Joyful Productions sets up the stage, lights and sound and works as sound technician. Chris Callen, Cycle Source Editor in Chief, makes it a point to use local businesses for the food, the beverage truck, the entertainment production, etc. and the coordination makes for smooth logistics. Thanks to good communication, the time for Saturday’s parade of bikes through Parsons at noon was adjusted a little to show respect for the funeral procession for Mariwyn Smith.
As usual, the BMR Kick-off was at Steel City Harley-Davidson in Washington, PA on Tuesday. Wednesday morning, the bikers who had gathered there headed for Wapocoma Campground on the South Branch of the Potomac near Romney where they picked up more riders. After camping there for the night, they rode ro Seneca Rocks and regrouped at Yokum’s Store where more folks joined the ride, and from there, they rode to Camp Kidd. They hope to come back to “Almost Heaven” next year.