Friday, December 11, 2015

Carnivore Oasis

Photos and story by Matt Whitley

"Those that have been to Bikes Blues and BBQ before already know there are hundreds of miles of sweeping twists and picturesque views to eat up in the surrounding Ozarks.  But while spending the day feeding the nomad within, one can also awaken a serious hunger from the carnivore that resides inside as well.
Many moons ago I found myself in such a predicament while traveling deep into the Ozark National Forest along AR-21. It was almost late afternoon and I was two gas stops in on my ride that day, but had neglected to put any fuel in my own tank. There were rolling hills of lush woodlands as far as the eye could see around me but unfortunately nothing that had a "cafe”,”restaurant”, or even “convenience store” sign attached it. I had become so famished that I could swear I heard growling even without engaging the throttle. And then about the point I started contemplating how tasty the fresh roadkill I passed a mile back looked, that's when I saw it!  Turning a corner, it was revealed to me much like a mirage in the dessert. A small red barn outlined in yellow and peppered in trinkets including bowling pins and lit chandelier. Before my eyes could process what the heck they were looking at, I had passed it by and it was out of sight again. But luckily I caught a quick glimpse of the sign "Ozone Burger Barn". Surely my hunger is playing tricks on me I thought for a second, but I ventured back around to have a second look.

As I pulled in and put the kickstand down I was relieved to find that I in fact had not had a hunger hallucination. However a part of me was questioning the sanity of a person who would open a burger stand in such a rural area. I walked up to the window and was bombarded with a surprisingly extensive menu of tasty options such as burgers, pizza, tacos & even fish. I was hungry enough to order one or five of everything but I thought I might start out with just a Mushroom Swiss Burger and a shake first. 

Standing there for a few minutes, I took in the tackily charming surroundings, including a water fall fountain with blue water, stuffed deer moose head wearing a fedora, and various outdoor toys and games. No signs of life yet from the barn made me begin to wonder if the place was actually open or not. Just then the small window opened up and a older man's upper torso (his face was out of view) asked in a commanding voice "What do you want?!" I recited my order, paid and gave him my name. Then in the same tone I heard "It'll be out in a minute," punctuated by a clack of the window closing. I winced a little at the man's lack of couth but my empty stomach was by far grumpier at that point.
I took a seat at one of the adjacent covered picnic tables where I was greeted by a couple in matching Harley gear finishing up their meal. They told me they were from Russlleville  (about 40 miles south east) And said that they come here quite often. The man added that he thought the burgers are the "best around!"  This put me at ease a little after the cold reception I received from the man who was currently preparing mine. The woman smiled and gestured towards the barn. "Don't mind him, he's a actually teddy bear," she said. 

About 6-8 minutes later, the window opened again and my order was placed on the counter followed by "Matt!" and the clack of the window again. I wasted no time retrieving it and chowed down on the thick juicy hand made beef patty, fluffy football shaped bun and generous portion of fresh steak fries. Only pausing to make a couple of trips to grab more napkins to clean up the tangy sauce and savory mushrooms that didn't quite make it to their final destination (the sign out front wasn't kidding when it boasted "3 napkin burgers").

Needless to say it was one of the best burgers I've had in a long time! And a most memorable dinning experience.  And NO I am not just saying that because I was hungry enough to eat a horse that ate a smaller horse. I have been back several times since and have never been disappointed…err…by the food. The service on the other hand is sometimes lacking if not a little ornery if you ask a lot of questions or get too picky with your order. But personally I have come to find that the owner's grumpy disposition (real or played up) is just as much a part of the Burger Barn's charm as it's kitschy decoration, towering pines and messy burgers. 

The Ozone Burger Barn is tucked away in Ozone, Arkansas just off the 21 byway, (15 miles north of Clarksville). If you have an appetite for great food in the great outdoors that is served with lots of character and a little sass, then you owe it to your self to check out this truly unique carnivore's oasis in the Ozarks."


Monday, October 19, 2015

A Tactical Pair have a Bikes Blues and BBQ Wedding

Chad and Niki Neal of Oklahoma
By Niki Neal, Oklahoma

December 17th 2013 was a day that would change my life forever… It was the day I met the love of my life. Chad Neal showed up for our first date with yellow roses and kissed me right after saying hello. I knew he was different from that moment. That was the moment I fell in love with him and we haven’t been apart since. It’s not easy to find someone who thinks like you and loves everything you do. But when you do, you hold on to them and cherish every moment together.

Since I’ve met him, he has shown me a whole new world of adventure! He had two passions when I met him… His jeep and his bike! I personally had never experienced either before. The first time he put me on the back of his Dyna Wide Glide, I was very nervous. But after the first five minutes, I was in love! The freeing feeling of being on a bike, with the warm sun on my face was amazing! I was hooked! He took me to my first BBBBQ last year on the Dyna. It was awesome! I loved it as much as he did. Unfortunately the small passenger pad on the back was excruciatingly painful to me, so on our second day of the rally he traded it in for our Heritage Softail Classic. Now we can ride all day long, take trips all over and we both can enjoy the ride!
Chad and I are very patriotic and we love our country. Chad is an Iraq veteran and left that country with a broken back. But he doesn’t let that hold him back, a trait I admire the most. Another great trait is his ability to not just dream, but make those dreams a reality. In December of 2014 we fulfilled a dream of ours when we opened our store Save Yourself Survival and Tactical Gear and Gun Range in our hometown of Oktaha, OK. Chad proposed on our grand opening day as I was cutting the ribbon. Saying I was happy could not even begin to describe me that day!

After the excitement and things had settled down, I asked him what kind of a wedding he wanted. We both have been married before, and like most weddings his were planned by the bride. I wanted our wedding to not be just what I wanted, but what he wanted as well. We threw around a lot of ideas, but nothing really seemed right. Months went by and we still had no idea what we wanted.

At this point I was ready to just give up and go to the court house. When I said that Chad got quiet. He didn’t say anything for several hours and I thought I had made him mad with that suggestion. He finally came up to me and told me he came up with the perfect idea! “Let’s get married at Bikes, Blues and BBQ!”

It was the perfect idea and he already had it all arranged and us scheduled for September 25th at 4:15pm on center stage when he told me his idea. He knew I would love the idea before he ever said anything. Over the next several months we planned the event. I was given a beautiful wedding gown by a dear friend, so we went with “biker formal” attire. I even bought white high heeled leather boots to wear!

The day of our wedding arrived and I loaded all five of our children up in our friends van and Chad rode the bike. We left in plenty of time however we never expected an accident on the highway. So we were running late when we parked the van behind the Baptist church at the corner of Dickson St. and College Ave. So with five children trailing behind me, I took off running down Dickson Street, trying to make it to our wedding on time. I was instantly regretting those high heeled boots! We eventually made it, just ten minutes late, and completely out of breath. But when I saw Chad standing there waiting on me in front of the stage, I knew it was all worth it. And while we were on the stage saying our vows, I knew that this was the best wedding ever. As we rode up and down Dickson Street on the bike after, with everyone clapping and cheering, I knew I was where I belonged… behind the man that I loved… on the back of his bike!

Wedding photography: Proof of LifePhotography by Leslie Burchett


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

4th Annual Classic Car & Truck Show

If you weren’t there last year for the 3rd Annual BBB Car Show, you don’t know what you missed. We had it all, customs, street rods, vintage treasures, rat rods, even custom bicycles for the kids!  All that and vendors, a DJ, special awards, everything that goes with a great car show. This was a GREAT car show, at a motorcycle rally!

This year we’ve expanded – more cars and more attractions – all at the same great location.  The BBB Car Show will be held on Saturday, September 26 at Arvest Ball Park in Springdale. The address for Arvest Ballpark is, 3000 South 56th Street, Springdale, AR 72762. The Park is essentially at the intersection of Hwy 412 and I-49, with easy access and lots of parking.

But, it’s not only a static car show.  On Friday afternoon, pre-registered vehicles will get to participate in the Bikes Blues and BBQ Dickson Street Cruise, a car parade through the heart of the rally.  It’s a great event that EVERYONE can enjoy!

Monday, September 21, 2015

High School Sweethearts Renew Vows Main Stage

Joe and Courtney Sweeney-Legore were from the same hometown and graduated from the same high school. It wasn’t until nearly 17 years later that they met again and started dating. Joe had always been an avid motorcycle fan, but no longer owned a bike while they were dating. Courtney made him a promise that, one day, she would buy him a Harley. Three years after they were married, she did! 

For their fourth anniversary, the couple made their first trip to Bikes Blues and BBQ, had an incredible time, and upgraded their bike to the Road King they call “Casper”. They have enjoyed many rides, weekends, poker runs, and rallies together, but Bikes Blues and BBQ is the one Joe and Courtney have looked forward to returning to. They will be renewing their wedding vows on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. main stage in the Beer Garden on Dickson Street. Please join us as we celebrate with Joe and Courtney!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Fayetteville Fire Fighter's Poker Runs

Get ready for a beautiful ride and a chance to win big!

Every year, the Fayetteville chapter of The International Association of Fire Fighters  presents not one, but two superb Poker Runs!  You don’t have to be a firefighter to enjoy these runs! On-site registration is available during the rally at the Fire Fighters booth, located at the Bank of Fayetteville “Train Bank” at the Northwest corner of Dickson St and West Ave, or you can pre-register on-line by clicking here.

For those of you who have not had the pleasure, the IAFF Local 2866 offers runs through some of the most beautiful roads you’ll ever see.  If you are unfamiliar with the Northwest Arkansas area, but want to experience the great riding and scenery that the area has to offer, this is your perfect opportunity!

The money generated by these runs benefits Camp Sunshine.  Camp Sunshine is a summer camp facility for children who are burn victims; 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.  To visit Camp Sunshine is to come away teary-eyed, but with such appreciation of the bravery of these children and a profound respect for the firefighters who work so hard to provide them with this opportunity.  We sincerely salute I.A.F.F. and every other organization that supports this noble endeavor.

On both runs, last bike out 10:00 a.m., last stop closes at 5:00 p.m.

Friday Stops
Baum Stadium west side Starting Point
1st  Pied Piper in Eureka Springs
2nd Sugar Boogers Hwy 412/74
3rd Crosses Store Hwy 16
4th Caseys Gas Station Elkins
5th Mojos on Garland Ave End Point

Saturday Stops
Baum Stadium west side Starting Point
1st Devils Den State Park
2nd Dickeys BBQ Siloam Springs
3rd One Eyed Jacks Tobacco Lounge Bentonville
4th KoA Chocolate Factory Elm Springs
5th Riverside Entertainment Hwy 412 Near Siloam Springs End Point

Pre-Registration forms must be submitted no later than midnight CST Friday September 18, 2015. Pre-Registration will be closed at that time.   Only pre-registered riders are guaranteed the t-shirt size of their choice.

Online Registration >

OVMA 2nd Annual Vintage Motorcycle Show

The OVMA and Bikes Blues & BBQ Inc. 2nd annual vintage motorcycle show!

Please join us for our second annual vintage bike show being held on Saturday September 26, 2015- rain or shine- at the Arvest ballpark in Springdale Arkansas. This is an open invitation to all to bring your vintage bike(s) and show them off. The show will take place under 6400 square feet of tent in a paved parking lot. Your bike(s) will not be out in the elements, and neither will you. Improved concessions are available on site. Your trucks and trailers can be parked on the lot close by, and there will be uniformed security beginning on Friday and going through Saturday. We will have early registration available on Friday evening from 6pm until around 9pm.

Don't have a vintage bike to show? Then come on out and attend the show anyway! You don't have to own a bike to look. And it's free! Bring your mom and dad out, they will love all the old motorcycles. They may have owned and ridden some like them. 

The Show is being held during the Bikes, Blues and BBQ rally that runs from September 23 until September 26 of this year. The rally usually brings in 400-450,000 bikers, and some projections are pointing to 500,000 this year. Pair that with our MSA of more than 500,000, and your bike(s) are going to be seen by a lot of people. 

There will also be a big car show, Wounded Warrior project, live music and a fireworks show at the Arvest venue.

So, bring some bikes to show and one to ride. Spend a Couple of days if you can. Northwest Arkansas has some of the best riding in the country, and there is more to do during this event than you can possibly get around to. 

For more information on BBBBQ, here is a link to their website:

The show will include 1st and 2nd place awards in the Rider category and the Restored category. The usual classes of American, British, European and Pacific Rim will apply to each category. There will be 1st,2nd,3rd and 4th place awards in the Survivor category. In the Custom category, there will be 1st and 2nd place awards for the classes of Bobber, Chopper, Cafe and Rat. 1st and 2nd place awards for the Tiddler(100cc and less)class, in addition to 1st, 2nd 3rd and 4th place awards for Competition bikes. There will also be Best of Show, Sponsors Choice(4), and Directors Choice awards given. 

We believe that involvement from other clubs is crucial to the success of the show, and would like to include individuals from different clubs in the judging process to help promote fairness to all who enter. If any of your members would consider helping judge, we would love to hear from them. Contact Jim at with any questions. 

The individual entry fee is 10.00 for your first bike and 5.00 for each additional bike. Your 5th and subsequent bikes are free. Individuals and clubs presenting 8 or more bikes will have all registration fees waived. 

SPECIAL: This year there will be no entry fee for bikes 45 years and older!
Registration 6-9pm Friday and 8-10:30am Saturday. Judging 11:00-2:00am, awards ceremony at 2:30pm. show ends at conclusion of awards ceremony. An antique for purposes of this show is any motorcycle from 1990 back. (25 years or older).

Map to the Arvest Ballpark > 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Best BBQ the South Has to Offer!


If you want to know what barbeque is all about, the People’s Choice Competition portion of the Progressive Insurance Arkansas State BBQ Championship Friday night at the BBB Official Campground is where you need to be! For a $6 donation, you get to not only taste, but cast your vote for your favorite “cue”. Sample some World Class BBQ, wash it down with a tasty beverage,  and enjoy some of the most unique attractions the rally has to offer! This is some of the best BBQ in the South!  We open the gates for People’s Choice at 6:00 p.m. and start serving at 6:30 p.m.  Come early and eat a lot.
And while the People’s Choice is fun for all, the Kansas City Barbeque Society sanctioned portion of the Progressive Insurance Arkansas State BBQ Championship is the BBQ Battle Royale. Contestants put their best meat forward for a chance to win thousands in prize moneys. So if you think your BBQ is the best in the land, here’s your chance to prove it.

The Washington County Fairgrounds Events

The Fairgrounds is home to a party in itself.  Of course, it’s the official campsite of the rally, but it’s so much more.   For instance, the Arkansas State BBQ Championship sponsored by Progressive Insurance and Sam’s Club (the official supplier to Bikes Blues and BBQ), lawn mower pulls, free live music in the Blues Alley Saloon, the preliminary round of the Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys’ Miss BBB Contest, and the second annual Bikes Blues and BBQ Tattoo Expo.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Jack Daniels-Cherokee Casino VIP Ride

Two of our favorite sponsors are combining to put on a great VIP ride this year.  We got so much positive feedback last year about the ride, we decided to do it again and even improve it.  So, check this out:  An extended ride through the beautiful hills of western Arkansas and eastern Oklahoma, a full lunch at Cherokee Casino  in West Siloam Springs plus free play cards, experienced ride captains to show the way, and of course, the commemorative 2015 bottle of Jack Daniels Single Barrel.  And that’s not to mention the gifts from Jack Daniels and Cherokee Casino.  One of the comments we got last year was that the ride legs weren’t long enough, so we’ve remedied that.  You’re going to ride a lot, through some beautiful country.  All this for $100 per bike and rider, and $50 per passenger.  Spots for the ride are limited, so sign up early while there are still openings.

To register, call the BBB office Monday-Thursday, between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and noon.  479.527.9993

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Final stop for Flo’s Chop Shop: Bikes, Blues and BBQ

If you haven’t experienced it yet, here’s your last chance.

Flo’s Chop Shop is coming to Bikes, Blues and BBQ!

We’ve been on the road all summer long, and at our fifth and final rally stop, we’ll be setting up Flo’s Chop Shop so you can enjoy a free beard or mustache trim or shave, boot shine or even a manicure! And if you’re a customer, let us know—we have a VIP gift waiting for you.

Plus, when you arrive, you can take advantage of our free, secured and covered 24-hour parking behind Hog Haus Brewing (but hurry as spaces fill up quickly).

It’s more than a rally. It’s an experience. Here’s a sneak peek at what we have in store for you:

Of course, there’s so much more to Bikes, Blues and BBQ than, well, bikes, blues and BBQ. Since its inception, rally leaders and attendees have raised and donated over $600,000 to local charities making it the nation’s largest charitable motorcycle rally.

With that in mind, we want to contribute to the effort, too. So this year we’re partnering with Habitat for Humanity to host a free Flo-waffle breakfast on Saturday September 26th from 8:00 to 10:00 a.m. at the Bikes, Blues and BBQ Beer Garden on Dickson StreetNo donations necessary—breakfast is on us. But if we fill you up right, consider a tip—any extra donations will benefit Habitat for Humanity, too.

See you there!


Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Stokes Air Battle of the Bikes

The Stokes Air Battle of the Bikes presented in part by Nabholz Construction

Hundreds of thousands of people attend Bikes, Blues & BBQ with some of the most awesome bikes around. Everything from tricked out custom choppers to rockin’ Harley’s and sweet metric bikes crowd the streets of Northwest Arkansas. There’s something for every taste, cruisers, vintage, sportbikes, and dressers.  What better way to showcase these amazing rides than to round up the best-of-the-best and let the public decide which one is the coolest of them all?  And that’s what we do every year.

The Stokes Air Battle of the Bikes is a drive in bike show with winners named in a variety of categories.  We stage this competition on Saturday morning/afternoon in the Bikes Blues and BBQ Beer Garden on Dickson St. So bring your “baby” down and see how it stacks up, or just come by and check out some of the best looking bikes in the world!

After the initial Bike Show, we select the top three entrants from each group and conduct a “people’s choice” competition called “The Battle of the Bikes.” Bikes of various types go head to head with audience reaction determining the winner.  The winners prize?  An enormous championship belt.

Bike Show Schedule
Registration – 8:00-9:00 a.m. Preliminary Judging – 9:00-10:00 a.m. Battle of the Bikes – Noon

Categories for the Stokes Air Battle of the Bikes

  • American Cruiser
  • Bagger
  • American Factory Custom
  • Sportster
  • Metric Cruiser
  • Unique
  • Metric Sport
  • Chopper
  • Trike/Conversion
  • Radical Custom

A huge thanks to Nabholz Construction for helping to make this possible

In the poster: Emcee Laramie LaFarge and Matt Gillen.  Photography by Aponi.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Local Flavors by Joe: Buffalo's Mule Barn

By Joe Giles
Bikes Blues and BBQ Executive Director

Every year, thousands of riders come to Northwest Arkansas looking for the best that the Ozarks have to offer. One of the best ways to find the good rides, as well as the cool places is to check out the official rally guide. BUT, the locals (in this case, me) have their favorites that often are easy to miss. Heck, we’ve got hundreds of miles of great roads, dozens of great restaurants and bars, and a ton of just cool places to see. So, these are some of the roads and places that I really like. Some of these are associated with the rally in one way or another, but that’s not why they were chosen. They are on the list because they are some of my favorites.

Buffalo's Mule Barn
If you are coming in from the south, try out Hwy 10 in Oklahoma. The section I love runs from Tahlequah north to “Little Kansas”. It tracks parallel with the Illinois River through a 25 mile route featuring both river views and overhanging bluffs. On the northern end of the road, just south of “Little Kansas” you’ll round a curve and see the gravel parking lot of a locally legendary bar, Buffalo’s Mule Barn. Walk inside and you are in the sort of place that the American Pickers would find irresistible. To say Buffalo is one of the most interesting bar owners in the world would be a ridiculous understatement. But be warned; don’t offer to pet her Coatimundi. The beast is a little particular concerning who touches it.

When you leave the Mule Barn, head back south to Skelley School Road (Chewy). The first half of Skelley School Road is like riding through a tree lined cave. And then, there’s the bridge. You’ll recognize it immediately. You can park by the entrance or take the gravel road down under the bridge. It makes a very good stop.

Leave there and ride east until you “T” into OK Hwy 59. After that, going south takes you to Westville and Hwy 62 to Fayetteville, or going north takes you to Siloam Springs and Hwy 412 to Springdale.

The Hogeye Mall
Another favorite ride? Sure. From the Baum Stadium venue, just go south on Razorback Road and stay on it (it becomes AR 265). When you get to the bustling metropolis of Hogeye, the road comes to a T. Turn right and go a couple hundred feet and then left at the “famous Hogeye Mall” which bears a striking resemblance to a weathered convenience store.

After that, follow the road (it’s still 265) until it intersects with AR 170. Turn right on 170 and head to Devil’s Den State Park. Stop there and check out the dam or just continue on the road for a lengthy stretch of hairpin curves that will truly test your skills. In a few miles, you’ll come to the town of Winslow (home of the Winslow Squirrels, no kidding) and
U.S. 71, a great ride in itself.

Devils Den State Park
North to Fayetteville, or south to Alma. Your choice. Finally, for the best rides in the area, I heartily recommend you pick up a copy of the BBB Official Rally Guide or purchase a Butler Map of the Ozarks. The rally guide (free, by the way) contains various suggested routes, hints about local attractions, and a lot of information you’ll find extremely valuable. The Butler map is a color-coded waterproof tool outlining roads based on riding quality. Check out blog again in a week or so. I’m going to take you to the Dead Pecker Inn just because I love the name, and then to K.J.’s Caribe Restaurant for some of the most amazing food you’ll ever have.


Monday, July 13, 2015

A Father - Daughter Adventure

As one of the owners of VicBaggers Customs in Francisco, Indiana, I rarely get an opportunity to spend quality time with my family like I used to. The moments seem to be few and far between as my business partner and I work a lot of hours at the shop. One of the most difficult tasks is managing home life as well as manufacturing parts, gearing up for rallies, events, fulfilling orders, finishing builds, keeping up with sales and service as well as all the other business related stuff. 

My wife has been telling me that I need to spend more time with my daughter, so for once I listened to her… LOL. I consider my daughter and I to be pretty close, but do I know the intimate details of her life? Am I really listening to her when she is talking to me, while I have so many other things on my mind? She just turned 13 years old, a critical time in her life, even though she lives in the same house, comes to work with me, eats at the same table, have we lost touch a little? Well it’s time to get back on track and get to know each other a little better, let her know how special she is and that I am always here for her. What better way to do that than on the seat of a motorcycle.

Our journey begins during the “American Victory Rally 2015”. We drove out to Colorado Springs with the VicBaggers crew and set up during the Rally. There were several group rides that were going on during the event, so I thought it would be a good idea for her and I to tag along on the rides and get to know some of the other Riders and potential customers. What a great idea…. Our first day trip was to the “Royal Gorge Bridge”; it is located in Canon City, Colorado and is the world’s highest suspension bridge. Spanning a height of 956 feet above the Arkansas River, with an overall height of 1053 feet, the bridge has wooden planks that pop and twist, causing the bridge to move quite a bit as you ride across. As our group passed across it and the bridge was twisting like a salted pretzel fresh out of the booth at the mall, giving you that WHOA kind of feeling.

  Next day we take on Pikes Peak. Just a day prior to the annual Hill Climb race, we rode to the top on a 30” supercharged bagger. With an elevation over 14,000 feet the air is much thinner at the top and a bit cooler too, but the view is amazing. The winding twisting road to the top screams out fun for any age. Looking down at the road winding
back and forth as you make your way to the top makes you wonder how such a road came to be.

The Rally came to an end and Carli and I saddled up on our Victory Bagger outfitted with a 26” front wheel, full air ride, no windshield, solid aluminum grips and a tank full of gas. Not what some would consider being a conventional touring bike, but we build bikes to ride, not just to show.  We hit the road running southwest, with our route taking us through “The Great
Divide “. You begin to get a true appreciation for beauty as you can’t help but stop often to capture some of the landscape with pictures. We make our way through stopping at 4 corners USA. Ever wish you could be in two places at once? Well, at 4 corners you are in four states at the same time. Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico all meet up together through the Heart of Navajo country. We stop for the evening just a bit further down the road. Our hotel was staffed by Navajo men and women. As we prepared to depart the next day one of the staff gave Carli a Traditional Navajo double braid in her hair. It’s not every day that you can have your hair braided by one of America’s natives, what a great experience for her.

Further south we go and making our way to the Grand Canyon, we hit the southern edge known as the desert view. There is a tower there to mimic the Native American’s watchtowers from long ago. You begin to get a feeling of what it felt like to be a cowboy as the scenery pulls you in to a western atmosphere that has retained its beauty over the years. The openness brings light to how small we truly are.

We begin to make our way eastward and stop in New Mexico and had some dinner with a customer / friend and his family. One great thing about making cool parts for bikes is all the great people you get to meet. We spend the evening telling stories and making new ones and get off to an early start the next morning.

Carli and I ride though more of the hot desert passing from New Mexico into Texas and stopping for the night just outside of Oklahoma City. The next morning we take a short trip into the city to spend some time at the memorial site of the Oklahoma City bombing. 2015 marked the 20 year anniversary of the tragedy that took the lives of so many people men, women and children are remembered along the street side with chain link fence plastered with photos, notes, medals, cards and other memorabilia to honor the fallen. It was a very surreal feeling standing in a place that affected an entire nation in a
single moment. Carli had never heard of the Oklahoma City bombing, so she received a bit of education on the event. The fact that she was not taught this in her local classroom hit a nerve with me. I was reminded of why we should never let the future generations fail to see what hatred in our society has done. How we tear one another down for whatever belief or reason that prompts us. A story that continues to repeat itself even in today’s America.

We have some lunch with some friends we made last year at the Blackhills Rally, Sturgis South Dakota. Told a few more stories, talked a little business and ate till our bellies were full. We made our way eastward even more stopping in central Missouri as it was getting later in the day and the weather was looking a little ruff ahead. We order in some pizza and chill out in our hotel for the evening just the two of us, being thankful as a pretty good storm was taking place outside our window.

After some breakfast the next morning we make our way into the city of St. Louis. You can’t make your way through the town without looking at the big arch in the sky. Passing it by over the years today seemed like a great day to make
a stop and really check the huge landmark out. We get some tickets to go up to the top and we had an hour or so to kill, so Carli saw the horse drawn carriages just outside the gate and she and I took saddle once again but to a different seat. We cruised around the area at a slower pace checking out the Cardinals stadium and various other cites the city had to offer. We then take aim towards the top of the arch. The view from above shows a different perspective and you can see how much industry is associated with the city. We make our way down the arch, get a quick bite to eat, and fire up the Vic once again for our final jaunt homeward.

In our last few hours I felt a good sense of accomplishment. The various cultures we were able to be exposed to. The bike ran well and there were no issues. I began to notice that every time I would give a hand signal for a lane change, Carli would also  signal, pointing out obstacles and potential hazards in the road, she was becoming a little biker herself.

The scenery now looking more and more familiar brought on a sense of sadness that tomorrow would be back to reality. Don’t get me wrong, I was looking forward to being home to my beautiful wife and newborn son, and there is no place like home. But as my daughter leaned forward and put her hands around my waist one final time, she was my little girl and I was all that she needed.  Soon it will be all about her friends and in 10 years or so she will have a boyfriend.  Before I know it she will be all grown up and out into this world on her own. The best that I can hope for is that these little moments have created memories that will last her lifetime. For me, well I am looking forward to creating the next memory.

"Crazy Horse" Custom Indian Bagger 
Story by Eric Powell
Eric is the Co-Owner of Vic Baggers.  Pictured left is the Indian VicBaggers entered in the 2014 Bikes Blues and BBQ Stokes Air Battle of the Bikes, taking first place in the Bagger Category.

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Friday, June 12, 2015

Coming Home to Bikes Blues and BBQ

Earl Vinson and his wife, Heather Wilson, with their 2013 Road Glide Custom aka "Sound of Madness"

We would like to welcome home Petty Officer Third Class Earl Vinson who served his country in the US Navy for the past six years.  Upon finishing his military career on May 27th this year, he and his wife, Heather Wilson, began making plans to return to NW Arkansas from San Diego, California. During his tour of duty, Officer Vinson was deployed on the USS Gridley Destroyer and was part of the 7th Fleet escorting the carrier group that went in to get bin Laden.  Prior to his service in the Navy, he served NW Arkansas for thirteen years as a police officer.  Quite an honorable record of service, we are all very proud to have him returning home and greatly thankful for his service.

Earl's hometown is Prairie Grove, Arkansas where he grew up and attended school.   Joe Giles, the Executive Director of Bikes Blues and BBQ, used to be Earl's English teacher in 7th and 8th grades in Prairie Grove Middle School where, coincidentally, Earl's mother, Verla Jean Vinson, also worked in the administration offices until her passing in 1996.  Earl and Heather will reside in Springdale upon returning to the area, to be close to his four daughters, ages 19, 18, 15 and 9.

Earl is tickled to be able to attend Bikes Blues and BBQ again this year and Heather is enthusiastically looking forward to attending the rally for the first time.  She tells us she will be posting about the rally later in the summer on her own blog, Life of a Traveling Navy Wife.  "My father rides and despite my being 39 years old this will be my first rally ever!  We are both looking forward to seeing everyone there," Heather Wilson, proud wife of former US Navy Sailor, Earl Vinson.


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Battle of the Bikes from the Cover of Thunder Roads Magazine

Scotty Robertson and his Champion 2005 Custom Harley-Davidson Springer

As the crowd cheered, whistled and screamed for their favorite bike in the 2014 BBBQ Stokes Air Battle of the Bikes sponsored by Nabholz Construction, the winner was not clear the first time through.  With Earl the Pearl on the sound meter and Laramie LaFarge on the microphone, egging on the crowd to cheer louder, I called out an additional surprise for the winner of the final round of the battle; the Cover Shot of the November issue!  Suddenly, an already deafening cheer, became an uncontrollable roar as they proceeded on to declare whether the hot, big wheeled Indian Bagger or the unique, chopped and bobbed Harley-Davidson Springer would win the final round and take home the championship belt.  And the winner is... Scotty Robertson, aka "Memphis" with the 2005 Harley-Davidson Springer!

Mid-Saturday afternoon Dickson Street in full-tilt cruise mode with the gracious help of the Fayetteville police department, our photographer, Douglas Henderson was able to very quickly capture (we were given 45 seconds) this beautiful cover photo of the winning bike on Dickson Street.

The event MC Laramie LaFarge
We were honored to be able to shoot Scotty's beautiful ride and him proudly displaying the belt.  He was beaming as he held the belt in front of him saying, "this is my second Battle of the Bikes championship win and this belt will to to my second son as my first son has the other one."  Pride and humility were both standing right in front of me as I watched this father and bike builder pace and gaze at his coveted prize.  It's what winning an honorable bike show does to a man and we were happy to get to be a part of it.

Check out the interesting and unusual Bike Specs.  There are some real surprises and unique pieces to this bike that you may not notice right away.  One of the crowd favorite particulars of the bike, was that the coil cover is the Zippo lighter which Scotty's late grandpa carried in his own pocket.  The Prince Albert Can represents the tobacco he smoked.  Scotty couldn't hid that he loved putting this "Working Man's Bike" together.  He asked us to mention that it wouldn't have been possible without the help and inspiration from his dad, Danny; support of his wife, Kristi; sons, Jett and Slade; and the rest of the speed shop family.  All we can say is thanks Scotty and ask the question, "Can he make it a three-peat?"

Reprinted with permission by Thunder Roads Magazine Arkansas / Oklahoma
November 2014 Issue
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Monday, May 11, 2015

I've Been to the Rally with a Group with No Name

Kathy Rice having a nice nap
By Kathy Rice

We are a no named group with no rules.  Our group consists of professionals in railroading, accounting, teaching, ministry, security, medical and retirees. The group began in 2000 when the first couple attended BBBQ and bike parking was down the center-line of Dickson Street.  Growing to a group of 17 we range from ages 49 to 68, residing in Benton, Bryant, Cabot, Conway and Maumelle. We consist of two unmarried couples and upward to a couple with 28 years of marriage.  Our bike preferences vary just as much as our personalities and our opinions, which make for a canvas of many years of memories.  We are the more matured, responsible generation, but we look forward to our one week annually at BBBQ so we can let our hair down (what hair we have anymore).

Friends to the end
We are fortunate to stay in the same rooms each year in Springdale and are able to register for the next year upon check out.  It is a place we can call home with a restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinner, partying, deck conversations and bike cleaning all on the same site.

We harbor bad backs, bad knees, cancer survivors and cancer patients.  We have ridden so many trips and know one another so well we can read what is approaching by a hand movement, the lift of a foot or the turn of a head.  Most importantly, we know when someone is in need.  We are close knit.

Our trips consist of travels to Sturgis for some, a 31-hour straight ride to Utah by one individual, New Mexico as a foursome, and a couple's trip to Canada and Arizona.  We've had short one-way trips to Eureka Springs that have taken 12 hours from our meeting place in Conway.  Our least experienced young woman with two years under her belt, made the three other ladies in our group envious when she rode roundtrip to Atlanta last year for a business trip, ALONE.

Part of the group out for a ride
Our photo taker generally takes 300-400 photos of BBBQ, our group visiting the vendors, sitting on and dreaming of the bike of our dreams, buying things we may never wear, and eating until we think we may not be able to throw a leg over the seat.  After walking 6-7 blocks from a parking space we are usually too tired for the concert, but we have been known, on occasion, to sit and enjoy people watching and a cold beverage.

When one sees our group coming, they will see mild mannered folks that respect other bikers.  We believe -- “Variety is the Spice of Life".

Jim/Kathy Rice
Dennis/Terry Haugen
Chuck/Kris Gilden
Steve/Tricia Stanton
Mark Milligan/Cheryl Burroughs
Dave Luttmer/Autumn Williams
Jeff/Cathi Tyree
Bob Christensen

Dave-Autum aka
Lumpy and Spyder Woman
Out for a ride

Chuck-Kris Gilden aka
411 and Too Tall
Dennis-Terry Haugen
aka Rainman and Stretch
Stopping for a break

Part of the group

Kathy Rice
Jim Rice's ride
Jim Rice