By Diana Olmstead
Photos by Diana, Robin Hudson & Breanna Willis
On Friday, May 4th, our photographer Robin and I headed east to attend the 2018 “Rockin’ the Red Horse” rally at the Red Horse Diner and Nodding Donkey Bar in Ellensburg, WA.
The Red Horse Diner was originally a 1930’s Mobil gas station that has been renovated into an authentic 50’s style diner. The interior of the restaurant is covered with automotive, motorcycle and other memorabilia from years past. Motorcycle enthusiasts and hot rod fanatics from all over the United States stop by here all year round.
The Red Horse Diner is family owned and operated by the Crossett family. Daughters Nicole and Breanna are the managers who worked very hard to put this awesome event together. Bruce Crossett, owner, and his daughter Nicole are also hard-core riders. You’ll often see Bruce on his yellow Road Glide and Nicole on her gorgeous orange Street Glide.
We rolled in to the Red Horse around 6 pm and the place was jam packed! Hot rods and bikes took up every inch of their large parking lot as well as lined the street out front. We made our way to their beer garden where a good ol’ fashioned biker party was in full swing! This isn’t an ordinary beer garden, it is an absolutely beautiful and meticulously maintained gathering space. The beer garden was well prepared for this event with ample tables and chairs, a porch swing and outdoor heaters.
Not long after we arrived the American Honey Band, a country rock band, began playing to the packed house. We hung out for a while, mingled with a few people and then headed off to our hotel up the road to get a good night’s sleep because Saturday morning would come all too quick.
Saturday, May 5th, which coincided with International Female Ride Day, was the biggest day of this 3-day event. At 9am riders made their way to the Red Horse Diner for breakfast and coffee and then walked next door to the Nodding Donkey Bar to register for the motorcycle run.
Here’s a bit of Red Horse history – the Nodding Donkey Bar was actually the former office of the original Mobil gas station from seventy plus years ago.
All total there were 6 stops, including the final stop back at the Red Horse. The first stop was in Kittitas County where riders had the option to choose one of two listed stops. From Kittitas the next stop was in Easton followed by stops in Roslyn and Cle Elum, then back to the Red Horse in Ellensburg. I estimated the route to be about 145 miles from start to finish.
The ride was a ‘take it at your own pace’ ride. It was not a group led ride. All riders at registration received a map listing all of the stops so they could enjoy each stop as long as they chose too. Riders also had the option of doing the route in reverse if they wanted to.
When we walked back to the beer garden area which was the main hub for music and activities, a cool laid-back music duo, Abbigail Smith & Erik Keystone, were playing an acoustic set and a handful of vendors had set up shop.
Around 6:30 pm the adorable Breanna Willis (Crosset) took to the outdoor stage to announce the bike run winners. For those that didn’t win, their registration cards were entered into a drawing for a chance to win one of 20 or so swag bags.
After the swag bag drawings had commenced another drawing took place – one lucky name would be drawn to win a beautiful handmade motorcycle t-shirt quilt stitched by local rider, Beryl Kelley. The happy winner of the quilt was Jim Dunn of Ellensburg!
All of the proceeds from the quilt raffle benefited the local Nerdy Girls Robotic Club. They are an underground girl only robot society with 19 current members.
At 8pm one of the best bands that I’ve had the joy of listening to took to the stage – the Road Fever band. The band was amazing, the vocals were off the chart and the classic rock setlist was perfect for this bike event!
During the band’s first break the winner of the VFW 50/50 was chosen. All proceeds benefited the non-profit Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 683 which helps to support veterans in the community.
Everyone we spoke with were so down to earth and happy. Just a great group of like minded people dancing, drinking, laughing and swapping stories.
As we headed out, we were impressed to see that for those who had consumed alcohol, their bikes were safely stored for the night and a taxi was called to take them to their hotel.
Sunday wrapped up with the final musical act of the event, the Rusty Cage Band playing at 11 am.
I cannot say enough great things about this ever-growing Rockin’ the Red Horse rally, the Crossett family who puts it on, and all of the cool people that I met or ran into over the weekend.
The Red Horse Diner and Nodding Donkey Bar are hosting several musical acts and events over the next couple months so be sure to stop by this biker owned and biker friendly establishment! The Red Horse Diner is located at 1518 W. University Way, Ellensburg, WA. (Just off I-90 @ Exit 106)
For more photos of this event go to www.quickthrottle.com and check out our Gallery.