Kathy Nichols

Start your engines

By - Aug 6th, 2010 04:00 am
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A free combination motorcycle show, swap meet and street party, Rockerbox is set to occupy the stretch of Milwaukee’s Center Street from Humboldt to Booth tomorrow from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m..

This rally is geared (pun intended) towards motorcycle enthusiasts, but has a little bit of something for everyone, considering all of the food and music involved. People are encouraged to bring (motorcycle) parts to swap with vendors who’ve set up in one of the booths lining Center Street. A bike show is featured in which anyone (on two motorized wheels) can participate.

Motorcycles are judged and prizes, provided by The Shop (located on South Greeley, a shop that specializes in servicing, repairing, and restoring classic and vintage European-made bikes), are unique pieces made the same day from spare parts that have been collected throughout the year.

“You pay ten bucks to get your bike in the show,” says event organizer, restaurateur and cycle enthusiast Scott Johnson. “The money goes to a charity, the Steel Shoe Fund, which helps injured motorcycle riders pay their bills and things,” he explains. Prizes are awarded after the show around 4 p.m.

“At the time we started, there was a lot of Harley stuff going on and we wanted to do something that wasn’t exclusively Harley, but something that included all motorcycles,” according to Johnson. “It’s a rally for enthusiasts. If you’re into motorcycle culture or old bikes or new bikes, that’s what it’s for.”

In the years since its inception, the scrappy Riverwest festival has grown by leaps and bounds, becoming a veritable summer destination for bikers.

“The first year, we had maybe 15 motorcycles here. Last year it was at least 1000,” says Johnson. “It’s just a daytime thing, look at the motorcycles, kick tires, talk to guys you haven’t seen in a long time,” he continues.

There will be a concession stand with street fair food including corndogs, pulled pork, and some yet-to-be-decided variety of potato side dish. There are also motorcycle-related vendor booths, including dealerships and people with bike parts to swap, t-shirts, books, videos, and riding apparel.

It wouldn’t be a street festival without live music. Local bands Holy Shit! (hardcore punk, starting at 1:45), Head On Electric (grunge punk, starting at 2:30), Fairweather Friends (garage rock, at 3:15), Trent Fox and the Tenants (60s party rock, starting at 5:00), and Ramma Lamma (snotty punk, starting at 6:00) will play throughout the day.

But don’t let the rough-and-tumble theme frighten you. Sure, it’s a day of loud music and louder tailpipes, but at it’s heart, it’s a chance for Milwaukeeans near and far to share their collective love for motorcycle culture.

“It’s just a nice thing to remember what you like about motorcycling. The people are all super-nice, super-polite. The cool thing about this is that it’s Harley guys and it’s sport bike guys and it’s guys from the south side who have the bikes with the neon on them, it draws from every different culture…and that was the whole point, to get people from all different cultures who just love motorcycles together so that they can look at each others’ bikes.”

Categories: Life & Leisure

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