The Abate Swap Meet in Monroe, WA was a blockbuster event. From the people attending to the vendors, a success was in the making from the get go.
By JD Gore and Jody Davison
I checked the weather repeatedly all week and Jody confirmed every dreary report. Rain was in the forecast, and so to better protect our equipment we were driving instead of riding our bikes the 300 miles to Monroe, Washington from our home in Oregon. We had one stop on Saturday in Lacey before we needed to be at the WA Abate Swap Meet held on Sunday, March 24th.
After getting through the Portland traffic our outlook changed about the weekend, as the more we drove north, the more the sun broke out. And half way up into Washington we knew the weathermen had missed it; the sun was beating down as the bikes catching our eyes increased. And with every bike going by, we look knowingly at each other and without a word, knew we should have ridden our bikes.
Our stop in Lacey on Saturday went extremely well and the numbers of bikes there made it even better. It was looking like T-shirt weather and we had only a ninety-minute drive to meet up with Abate’s Scott Robinson and get a run down on the Washington Abate Swap Meet that would start Sunday. We found our hotel, the Fairground Inn, unloaded our gear, and called. Scott said, “I’m just down the road from the Inn. I’ll park out front and follow me in, I’ll show you guys around.” We were excited to say the least, to not only meet Scott but to see the Abate Swap Meet we’ve heard so much about. The Fairground Inn was perfectly located, clean and very convenient, as the Evergreen State Fairgrounds was almost in sight from the Inn.
We quickly found Scott and he guided us around the back of a good size fairground, past tractors and into a lot that still had vendors unloading their goods. There was activity all around. You could feel the vibe. The anticipation for the swap meet to start was contagious. Scott introduced us to his wife, Micki, who was busy working at the vendor counter. Scott then introduced us to Tina and John Lawson who are, “An asset to the success of the Swap Meet, along with others I want you guys to meet.”
As we walked around, some vendors were setting up and others visiting, we could feel a tinge of electricity in the air to get the show going. We followed Scott around and looked over the 46,000 sq ft indoor area that the vendors filled and could see an abundance of apparel, parts and even complete bikes ready for display in the morning. Last year the Abate team had a trial run of using an additional adjacent building to house the increasing number of vendors. It was looking like the two buildings will be at capacity. We made plans to meet Scott in the morning before the swap meet opens. As Jody and I walked out, we ran into a cool young man unloading a 1926 Harley. We asked if he needed any help and he said he had it under control. His name is Paul Neff of Cispus Cycles. He and his buddy Marty of Capitol Speed Shop are going to compete in the 2020 Cannonball run. I was envious to say the least, but this is the type of experiences you have in the biker culture. Badass people around every corner.
8am came quick as we spent several hours Saturday night at a pub that’s a hop, skip and no jump needed from our hotel. At the pub Jody and I met a couple, Randy and Sue, now new friends from Snohomish who were there to attend the Swap Meet. Randy said he comes about every year with his group of brothers and sisters. I shared that according to Scott, this year’s Abate Swap meet is looking to be larger than any in the past. Knowing that, Jody and I were eager to take in the swap meet.
The spring morning came through our room window at the Fairground Inn, as bright as any summer day. At the fairgrounds we circled around back where Scott showed us the day before, and we noticed that the motorcycles in the reserved parking area had overflowed. There was a wide variety of bikes, many of the bikes belong to the Club members selling goods at their booths inside. We then ran into Micki and Tina working the counter where we had last seen them the night before. Tina shares that this is, “About the 35th + swap meet Abate has put on. The 31st at this fairground. And they’ve checked in 128 vendors to this years event. 47 of them are new vendors. That makes it the largest in Abate Swap Meet history.” After visiting with Tina we found Scott; he and his crew were busy as the doors had opened.