A Rockin’ Good Time!
Written by Diana Olmstead
Photos by Robin Hudson, Cary Clark & Diana
The Quick Throttle crew woke up early Thursday morning, June 21st, and then met up for a quick cup of coffee before heading off to the 40th Annual Spring Opener which is organized by ABATE of Washington. This yearly campout is their biggest legislative fundraiser of the year.
When we rolled into the Silver Ridge Ranch in Easton around noon we were greeted at the gate by a smiling Jimmy G, the Spring Opener Chairman, along with our friend in the Mason County ABATE Chapter who was there to lead us to our camping spot.
The Christian Crusaders were working the registration table, handing out registration packets and event wristbands to all who entered.
After exchanging pleasantries, we followed our friend Jenna to our camping area which was located in a wooded area that was dotted with pines.
After our tents were all set up we went and sat by the bonfire that was already blazing. Within a few minutes someone passed around a bottle of Jack Daniels… this was the signal that it was time to get the party started!
We hung out at our campsite for a while until we decided to go check out the vendor booths that surround “the bowl” which is the area where all of the event action takes place.
I love Thursday at Spring Opener, it’s a bit laid back and it’s the perfect day to take your time browsing the vendor area. It didn’t take long before all of us found a couple of cool items that we just had to have.
It was early evening and we were starving so we headed over to a cool rider friendly restaurant and bar located just outside of the ranch’s main gate, the Parkside Cafe and Turtle Lounge. It’s so close that there is no need to don a helmet as you putt to their establishment. The Parkside has new owners, Rick and Lori Nuzum, who happen to be longtime riders and members of ABATE. Their place was packed, especially the bar and outdoor garden area. Despite being so busy our dinners arrived promptly and tasted delicious.
After dinner we headed back to the campground where the band Harrison Street was playing on stage. We listened to them play for quite a while before we headed back to our campsite where we could still hear the band. There were about 20 of us sitting by the campfire, laughing, drinking and telling stories from road trips gone by. As the night fell, we hung a few glow sticks from our tents to ensure that after our night of fun we’d end up in our tents and not in someone else’s!
Friday morning, we all woke up feeling wiped out and in desperate need of some hot coffee… with some Kahlua and Baileys, of course. Lucky for us our friends in the Mason County Chapter of ABATE had a fresh pot brewing on their camp stove.
At 10 am the majority of campers hit the road for a poker run. The campground remained pretty quiet for the first part of the day but by mid-afternoon a steady of stream of bikes and RV’s arrived looking for the perfect spot to set up camp for the weekend.
The weather was gorgeous, the sun was out, the place was hopping with activity, and there was a happy-go-lucky attitude in the mountain air. It felt so good to get away from the daily grind of my office, and out into the woods, surrounded by bikes, friends and fellow campers.
At 5 pm, inked up bikers made their way to the stage to take part in the tattoo contest. Some incredible and not so incredible tattoo designs covered just about every part of their bodies.
After the tattoo contest we walked back to our campsite for dinner. Once again, my friends invited us to enjoy their amazing BBQ feast. Now we had brought plenty of food, but damn their BBQ looked delicious and we just couldn’t pass it up.
As we were cleaning up, I could hear a band playing back at the bowl so off we headed with our lawn chairs and drinks in tow. Sweet Kiss Momma was on stage and their female lead singer was belting out some great rock songs. This band was really good!
The band finished their last set and then it was time for a burnout contest! I love burnout contests… I love the smell of the rubber burning, the cloud of smoke that envelopes the bike and rider, the showmanship that goes into a good burnout and then the “pop” of the tire that signifies the show is over.
Several guys put their bikes and their rear tires to the test. The crowd freaking loved it! What a great addition to this year’s event!
Now that the crowd was fully pumped up it was time for Friday’s headlining band, Powerhouse, to take the stage. These guys played several sets of classic rock and music from the 80’s.
After rockin’ out and dancing for most of the night we all headed back to our campsite to party with our group of friends for a few more hours. Some of the people in our group I was meeting for the first time; I personally would rather sit around a campfire under the stars and get to know people than sit at a bar any day.
Saturday started off with a bike show hosted by the North Kitsap Chapter. The show was organized extremely well and they had a good variety of bikes and trikes to admire and vote for.
As the bike show commenced an announcement was made asking all riders to park their bikes in two rows to create an aisle leading to the stage. Why? Because there was going to be a wedding!
I stood near the stage to capture the moment with my camera. The couple and their minister were quite emotional during the ceremony. The groom, Steve Carlsberg, who is the ABATE of Washington State Secretary, stood with his beautiful bride, Sherri Rose, and recited their vows to each other in front of hundreds of spectators. It was a truly a beautiful biker wedding!
Next up was the bike games, a crowd favorite. The bike games are hosted every year by the Tacoma Chapter. What a wild and crazy event that was! Riders and passengers played several different games. The competition was fun and it was fierce!
Of course, throughout the games a few bikes went over in the dirt – some riders went down more than others. Sometimes it was funny to watch, sometimes we felt bad for the rider and sometimes we saw it coming. Rest assured within seconds there were plenty of guys on hand to help pick up the bikes and riders.
After the bike games there was a moonshine and pie eating contest. This was a big hit for those who enjoy old fashioned home brewed moonshine and homemade pie!
Saturday night ended with Too Slim and the Taildraggers taking the stage playing a soulful mix of blues and rock.
The highlight of Spring Opener is the raffle drawing and giveaway of five motorcycles and five guns. The time had come, a huge revolving brass raffle drum filled with thousands of tickets was rolled onto the stage. Lyle Coyle – ABATE of Washington State Coordinator, Scott Robinson – Eastside Deputy Coordinator, Chris Varner – Westside Deputy Coordinator and Jimmy G the Spring Opener Committee Chairman, oversaw the drawing which took place in front of the entire crowd of Spring Opener attendees. Each ticket was drawn by a different female volunteer and then read aloud.
Congratulations to the following motorcycle winners:
Sheryl Haga – 2018 H-D Street Bob
Marcus Keenun – 2018 H-D Forty-Eight
Robert Still – 2017 Kawasaki Vulcan S w/ABS
Olga Solovyeva – SSR Motorsports Pit Bike SR125
Cathy Leisure – SSR Motorsports Pit Bike SR110
Congratulations to the following gun winners:
Stephanie McNeil – Rock Island 1911 GI .45 ACP Pistol
Michael Pilkenton – Rock Island Compact 1911 CS .45 ACP Pistol
Tony White – Henry Lever Action .44 Rifle
Curtis Wienman – Sig Sauer P320 9mm Pistol
Justin Nance – Taurus TCP .380 Compact Pistol
By now everyone was feeling good, there was a let’s cut loose, dance and party vibe all throughout the bowl area. The vendors were still open for business and people were mingling, shopping and munching on late night snacks as Saturday’s headlining band was setting up and doing soundchecks.
At about 11 pm Moonshine Bandits took the stage and it was on! I’ve seen this band play before indoors. But let me tell you this band was right at home on that big outdoor stage, under the stars, surrounded by hundreds of happy bikers.
Everyone was digging their high energy! Normally I don’t struggle to describe a band but these guys are so unique with a sound of their own that I deferred to their description of their sound which is spot on; it’s a mix of “backwoods bravado, patriot’s pride, country soul and keg-thumping beats”.
My friends and I, heck damn near the entire crowd, were on our feet dancing during the entire show. What a way to close out the 40th Annual ABATE of Washington Spring Opener!
If you missed Spring Opener this year, you missed a heck of a good time. This campout is open to everyone twenty-one years of age and over. You do not need to be a member of ABATE to attend; Although they encourage all riders to join. ABATE membership is only $30 a year plus all ABATE members receive entry discounts into Spring Opener and other events.
Motorcyclists from all over Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California, Montana and beyond attended and supported ABATE of Washington’s main fundraiser, Spring Opener.
This event could not have taken place without the support of their 2018 Sponsors: Destination Harley-Davidson, Clems Enumclaw Powersports, Cycle Tires Wholesale, Countyline Shooting Sports, Big J’s Outdoor Store, Scotty’s Grub & Pub and Roads Paving.
I’d also like to thank Lyle the ABATE State Coordinator, all of the State officers, and the entire Spring Opener Committee which was headed by Jimmy G, and everyone else who volunteered. All of you did an amazing job!