2017 Oyster Run

For our 2017 Oyster Run gallery, click here. 

Written by SloMo
Photos by SloMo, Trigger & James Waechter

Some say Friday is when the fun starts at The Oyster Run but if you ask me, Thursday night is where the action is! I arrived with a slew of others to help “Limp” Lee set up the barricades, parking signs and other items needed to manage the weekend traffic.

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On Friday, event goers started filling the hotels, restaurants and shops all the while enjoying a variety of oyster shooters. The Oyster Run fun lasts through Sunday evening, although many kept the party going well into Monday.

The community, tourists and Oyster Run regulars all came down to enjoy the scene that included all makes and models of motorcycles, colorful characters, great food, live music and camaraderie which is what made this event such a good time.

A bit of Oyster Run history – It was 1981 when “Limp” Lee rounded up some of his buddies and suggested they get together and go for a motorcycle ride to Everson for oyster cocktails. The years progressed and the group became too big to ride up Highway 9, so Lee went and spoke with city officials from Anacortes, in hopes of moving the annual run there. After many meetings, the city of Anacortes gave the thumbs up to hold the now famous Oyster Run in their beautiful seaside city. The event, now in its 36th year, is the largest one-day motorcycle rally in the Pacific Northwest.

Despite the laid back approach, there’s no lack of entertainment. There were approximately seventy biker friendly establishments including accommodations, restaurants, taverns, tattoo parlors, car washes, coffee houses and more in Anacortes and the surrounding area. Vendors sold motorcycle gear, jewelry, clothes of all types, and of course, delicious food.

The Seattle Cossacks entertained in their usual awe inspiring fashion. For 79 years, these showmen have climbed aboard vintage Harley-Davidson Motorcycles, some dating all the way back to the 1930’s performing stunts that impress and excite the crowd. The Cossacks started in 1938 with a group of racers and hill climbers who used stunts to entertain themselves between events, according to the team’s website. These guys don’t use ropes, props, skyhooks or gimmicks, they just climb atop the bikes and their fellow riders, pushing the limits of balance and precision while demonstrating their hours of practice and heckuva lot of trust. They perform 20-30 shows each year around the Puget Sound area.

Whidbey Island’s Rollergirls’ had a mini bout on 5th street. Those ladies were a force to be reckoned with, not only were they rough and tough, they had some skating skills for sure! They raced around the track throwing elbows and maneuvering for position in order to send their jammer past the opponent’s blockers to score points. Around and around they went demonstrating several tips and tricks of the game with impressive endurance. They took the time to make the younger fans feel special and even took the time to tell us first timers about their game. I was told that the best way to learn about roller derby, is to play roller derby. Yeah, I just don’t see that in my future.

The Garth Reeves Band, aka The Unfaithful Servants, rocked 7th Street for the 12th year in a row. Standing atop a big red trailer they rocked and grooved the fans with a wide variety of music. My favorites were the rock-a-billy, blues type tracks and the amazing guitar solos. That was some clean pickin’. Garth has been playing professionally for over 20 years. After starting out in the Olympia music scene, Garth moved to Seattle and then on to a short stint in Brooklyn seeking more exposure. Now back in the Puget Sound area, Garth and his long time musical compadres work to expand their portfolio of original jams.

One of the big draws of Oyster Run is that no route is required. It was estimated that 30,000 people came from all over the Pacific Northwest; whether they were riding, walking or cruising in by boat, everyone enjoyed the Oyster Run in their own way.

Throughout the day bikes constantly rolled in and rolled out, their motors announcing their presence as they cruised and parked along the 10 blocks of the city’s main drag, Commercial Avenue. A constant stream of onlookers – locals and visitors alike, took in the polished chrome, the unique paint jobs, the rumble of the motors, and the colorful characters that were seated upon on all makes and models of motorcycles.

The side streets were where you could find niche inventory ranging from leathers to showroom motorcycles, while chefs offered up cycle-inspired food and drink menus. And of course, there were the raw oyster “shooters,” after which the event is named.

Bikers are not all that attend this free event. It is a safe and fun event for the entire family. The Oyster Run slogan is, “We don’t care if you ride, drive, walk, crawl, sail or swim; everyone is welcome!”

FYI – Next year’s 37th Annual Oyster Run will take place on Sunday, September 23rd.