Thursday, November 20, 2014

Seven Guys and 700 Miles to Dickson Street

By Spencer Blanchette, Chicago, IL

Starting out south of Chicago
Day 1: September 22, 2014

I rode with seven buddies from Chicago to Bikes Blues and BBQ this year.  Most of us have been riding together for about five years. For the past four years we have planned a long ride like this. We had a blast.

As we set out to make the trip, present were Bobby Utesch, Rudy Zimmer, Mike Wegworth, Brad Hurst, Kevin Walton, Chris Harrison and myself, leaving south Chicago for the Rally.  We were joined later by another three guys from Southern Illinois. 

The seven of us started out together from a truckstop south of Chicago on I-80 and route 47.  We left after breakfast at the R Place Cafe (best biscuits and gravy I've had). From there we took route 47 south to 74, then headed east to 57. Took that south from there.

Kevin southbound toward St. Louis
We hit a few spots of construction, but not a cloud in the
Knights of Columbus for Pizza
sky the whole day. Temps were a little low, but jackets, hats and gloves took care of that. After winding through a two lane road, we stopped at a Knights of Columbus hall where Kevin's family treated us to pizza and cold beer!

After leaving with a belly full of pizza and beverages, we
Bobby on the MLK Bridge, St. Louis
donned our helmets for the last hour of the day (Missouri is a helmet state). After a nice relaxing day, we rode across the MLK bridge into St Louis, where we would be parking for the night. Nice to see the sun as it sets and reflects off the arch - it's the little things that remind you what a great country we live in.  We had a perfect ride today, about 350 miles on a lazy route to St Louis.

Day 2: September 23, 2014

Kevin heading in to Devil's Elbow
We rolled through downtown St. Louis before
Elbow Inn at Devil's Elbow
stopping at a Harley dealer to buy things we don't need.  After leaving there, we rode about 100 miles west to Devils Elbow.  Then about another 70 miles west and ten south for an early dinner at Lambert's.  The sun was starting to set as we entered Arkansas, and went down completely as we arrived in Fayetteville. A bit over 700 miles, great trip so far!!

Rally Time: September 24 - 27, 2014

Taking a break during rally riding in Oark
After we were joined at our rental house by three other guys from southern IL (Don Shanks and his buddies, Chris and Doc) we decided to ride up to the top of Mount Nebo, 125 miles southeast of Fayetteville. The ride to the top of Mount Nebo was short but great.  For anyone who hasn't been there, it's a great ride!

Riding through Arkansas is not something you can describe, it is truly is something you have to be there and do. It's something you simply must experience.  There just aren't words, or even photos, that can do it justice.  Don't get me wrong, pictures and videos are great, but the memories from being there with a great group of guys like this is what it's all about.

The good thing about going with a large group is once you get to your destination, you can split off with a couple guys and go your own way for a few hours, or hit a dive bar, greasy spoon, or roll through the college campus like a creepy old man.

The view from the top of Mt. Nebo
Mike had a dead battery when we were leaving the house one night for dinner, once we pulled it, Rudy snatched it and before we knew it, he and the battery were gone. He rolled up a short time later with a new one, picked it up across town for Mike. One of those things that Murphy usually makes happen in the middle of nowhere, but this whole trip was pretty flawless.

Bobby was able to meet up with his uncle who lives near Fayetteville. A few of us wanted to hit up the helicopter pilot about getting some flight time over the strip, but never got around to doing it. It's been a little more than a few years since any of us were enlisted and got to take a spin in a bird.

Ride Home: September 28, 2014

The last photo as Spencer split off from the group
heading home
We left Fayetteville this morning just after 7am.  We hit the highway and I walked in the door at home 12 hours and 661 miles later. Here's the last pic just as I split off from the group.

We will definitely be back for more BBBBQ. The people of Fayetteville were great, the riding was awesome, the food was excellent, and we couldn't have asked for better weather. Hell, it's the only trip I've ever been on where I didn't need my rain gear!  I asked the guys for their comments about the rally, but being men of few words, I got only one reply:  "BADASS!!"








Spencer with Bobby riding beside

Spencer at the Harley Dealership in St. Louis

Spencer and the guys riding through MO

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Miss Bikes Blues and BBQ 2014

The Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys’ Miss Bikes, Blues & BBQ Contest was held on Saturday of this years rally, at 8pm in the Dickson Street Beer Garden.  This year's pageant was held a little differently than in years past, as contestants were voted upon by meter gauged crowd cheers and a process of elimination.  We think everyone enjoyed being able to be a part of the selection process!  Shelby Mason, pictured here with Joe Giles, Bikes Blues and BBQ Executive Director, walked off the Bikes Blues and BBQ Main Concert Stage on Saturday night of the rally with a $1,500 check and the title of Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys Miss Bikes Blues and BBQ.


2nd place contestant Lynsie Hice won $500 and third place Katie Harris took home $250.  Congratulations, ladies!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Introducing Mr. and Mrs. Darter

James Darter and Michelle Bradam were married on September 26, 2014 on the Main Stage during Bikes Blues and BBQ.   They met a year ago after being introduced by a mutual friend, and chose to begin their new lives together before a massive crowd in the Dickson Street Beer Garden, with Joe Giles performing the honors.  What better way to begin a marriage than with the cheers of family and a few hundred biker friends?

"Last year a mutual friend was very persistent that we meet so we finally agreed to, just to shut him up," Michelle told us.  "We haven't been apart since.  We have so much in common and we both love to ride and just to go anywhere. I have always been a passenger, I get to see more that way!"

James and Michelle had already made plans to go the 2014 Bikes Blues & BBQ rally.  Michelle had never been and was getting very exited to go. "James had been many times before", states Michelle, "when he told me about people getting married at the rally, my immediate reaction was:  How perfect could that be!!!"  So, Michelle got in contact with Joe, got everything set up, and a year to the date of when she and James met, they were married.  "Everything was perfect and Joe was amazing!  We can't thank you all enough for what you do", tells Michelle.

Please help us congratulate James and Michelle, and wish them all the best in their future lives together.  We very much look forward to seeing them both at future Bikes Blues and BBQ rallies celebrating many future anniversaries!  We wish you much happiness and many great adventures together!

James is the son of Jim and Carol Darter, Michelle is the daughter of Bill and Rhonda Bradam, residing in the Springfield and Mt. Vernon areas of Missouri.


Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Jack Daniels VIP Ride 2014

The Jack Daniels VIP Ride was limited to 100 riders and sold completely out. The riders enjoyed an exquisite, escourted tour of the Ozarks including a ride down the Pig Trail. They were treated to a catered meal, VIP pass for Thursday of the rally, a bottle of Jack Daniels Single Barrel Whiskey with 15th Anniversary Commemorative Badge. The ride finale was a stop at a Mermaids Restaurant for a sampling of the Jack Daniels family of products and Chef Todd’s remarkable culinary creations. What a great group of riders and a truly fun and successful event!

The above photo gallery is a collection of photos taken during the ride by Ricky Ritchie of 'From the Stands Photography'. Ricky and Aponi Studios are making these photos available to participants of the ride as a free download for any who wish to receive a copy of any of the photos. All were taken by Ritchie, but can be downloaded from Aponi Studios' gallery from this link: JackDanielsVIP

Enjoy!  Many thanks to Jack Daniels for sponsoring this event and also to Mermaid's Restaurant:

The group preparing to ride at the staging point.  Photo by Ricky Ritchie

Monday, September 29, 2014

Tshirt Winners

The following have each won 2014 Official Rally Tshrits: Brandon Randall, Scott Philips and Teresa Blaker Cox.  Congratulations!  The official tshirts are designed and produced by Southern Trend Clothing and will be shipped directly to the winners.  To claim your winning tshirts, please send your shipping information, tshirt size and phone number to  Winners may be verified.  Tshirt style to be selected by Southern Trend Clothing from among 2014 rally apparel.

Thank you to all who joined us for this year's rally, and we appreciate all your good comments and feedback.  We are happy to hear you all had a great time!  See you next year!

The following three have won Official Rally Tshirts:

Brandon Randall, MO
AWESOME !! AWESOME !! AWESOME!!! This was my 1st BBB. Rode down Friday with 20 great friends and what am awesome experience. Stopped at Rogers at Harley Davidson, then onto Fayetteville and straight to Dickson st. The amount of bikes and people was overwhelming. GREAT BBB AND GREAT MEMORIES!! Thank you!! Thank you!! Thank you!! SEE YOU NEXT YEAR

Scott Phillips, Hollister, FL
It was our first BBB Rally and it was the first time ever the family got to ride together. Thanks for the incredible memories...

Teresa Blaker Cox, San Antonio, TX
First timers and having a GREAT time! Weather is perfect and everyone is so nice!

Some additional comments from rally attendees:

Melissa Blevins Coates, Missouri
A great escape for the 4 of us that down. We are all volunteer firefighters and this is the one time of year we put all the craziness on hold, relax and enjoy ourselves. Such a great event. Our 3rd year and look forward to many more to come.

Stan Bey, Lakeland, TN
1st time there but will be back for sure! Had a great time

Cheri Rogers Honea, Lewisville, TX
First but not last visit. Loved being a part of something so BIG. Bikers are an awesome group of people!

Michelle Day, Louisiana, MO
BB&BBQ is tons of fun and all for good causes! This was our 3rd year and each year we keep adding couples. Next year we are bringing 2 more couples with us. We love all the events and love Arkansas itself. Calling in 2 weeks to make our reservations for 2015! Thanks for all the hard work by everyone to make it possible.

Spencer Blanchette, Chicago, IL
This was our first time there, and we will definitely be back for more!! A big thank you to everyone who sets up and runs a great rally, and to the people of Fayetteville for a great week!!

Teresa Boleyn Loll, TX
BBBBQ is amazing. Great people, great rides, great weather this year! Only our second year but wont miss again if we can help it! Great job Fayetteville and the surrounding communities for welcoming all us bikers and showing us a fantastic long weekend! Until next year....

Derrick Rose Warren of Little Rock, AR
This is my first year to make it. My bike was only 4 years old when this event started. She's still just as beautiful as the day I got her though and both of us are looking forward to making the ride to Fayetteville in the morning.

Brenda Sofia
I've yet to make the rally, but my sweetie has been there. His BB&B Rally t-shirt was his favorite. He wrecked on some loose gravel a couple of years ago (while wearing said shirt) & they cut if off at the scene. I think he was more pissed about that than he was about the bike or his busted scapula & ribs!

Beryl Lynn Castania of Texas
When I lived in Northwest Arkansas I never missed a BBB rally. I always had fun on Dickson Street especially when BBB was going on.  I am in Texas now and have not been able to go for the last few years but I will return again soon may God bless and be with the ones that are riding to this one. Ride safe but have a blast.

Shelley Justason, Kansas City, MO
Spent our honey last year here and we are at the fairgrounds this year. 250 miles Kansas city mo is our home. This year made it through back surgery to make this ride thank god

HR Jimmy Baker, F'ville
So cool to sit in my living room and hear hundreds maybe thousands of BIKERS going to the BLUES and knowing they will eat BBQ. Always the best time of year. I don't have a Harley, but let me tell you I most certainly have killer dreams at night especially hearing all the BIKES going by during the day. ENJOY EVERYBODY! BE SAFE!

Echo Jensen Krause, Missouri
Best Rally I've ever been to everyone's so friendly cant help but have a good time!

Bob Frakes, Girard, KS
Can't wait to get there.going Saturday this will be my 10th trip in a row to bbbq.

Stacy Vandever Parks, F'ville
I love that it usually falls on our wedding anniversary (9/28). I love that we can bring our daughter. She loves it all. She has gone with us every year since she was born(6). We love the music, the food, all the vendors. We only have GREAT memories, and are so thankful that something this charitable and fun is held in our town!! Keep up the good work, BBBBQ!!!

James Logan, Vienna, MO
It was my first year , awesome seen any bike I wanted to see ate every bit of BBQ I could . If you aren't there next year, your lose sucker!!!!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Steve Brack

Country music fans attend BBBBQ also, so we had some entertainment for them as well.



Saturday, September 27, 2014

Got It Covered

Got It Covered filled the stage with with number of musicians that put on a fantastic show.