Written & Photographed By Diana Olmstead
SEASIDE, OR — A few months ago my wonderful boss/publisher asked me to cover a weekend bike event that I had never been to. He had attended the previous year and boasted of the event – Bike Fest at Seaside. Naturally I said “Yes” to covering something new! The feedback we receive from our readers/riders clearly indicates that many riders are looking for something new, especially if you’ve been a rider for a significant amount of time and you’re feeling the “been there, done that blues“.
Just so there is no misunderstanding – Bike Fest at Seaside was an absolute blast!!! If you missed it, you really missed out on an amazing weekend! Early numbers indicated over 3000 bikes attended this year’s event!
First off, no matter where you were coming from, a scenic route can easily be chosen to Seaside. We live along Hood Canal in Washington. With temps in the 90’s, coastal Hwy 101 was our obvious choice. It offered pit stops at some spectacular view points and monuments. It was such a rush opening up the throttle as we crossed the Astoria Bridge, listening to our straight pipes rumble as we hit the incline, knowing we were 20 minutes from Seaside. Once over the bridge, my buddy and personal tour guide, Ross, insisted we make a stop at Astor’s Column, 125 ft historical monument erected in the early 1900‘s. The artistry on the outer wall of the column is incredibly detailed and the view from the park was utterly breathtaking with bald eagles soaring overhead and deer grazing nearby.
As we entered Seaside, Budweiser banners greeted Bike Fest attendees on just about every street corner. The registration booth was easy to find, well marked, with plenty of staff. The cost of registration was extremely reasonable – $20 and it included a t-shirt, ride pin, and your choice of a poker run or poker walk. I should note there were many compliments by riders on the Bike Fest t-shirt design. It was unique, cool, and a reflection of the City of Seaside.
Bike Fest at Seaside is organized by Marjorie and Gary Diebolt of Flashback Promotions. The event is staffed by volunteers who truly deserve a public thank you. So hats off to: Dave & Jean DeFord, John Dawson, Barry & Linda Hoard, Matt, Mark, Judy, Brian, Barbara and Brad Adsit and of course, Gary and Marjorie.
This was the 4th year of Bike Fest at Seaside. The event had 28 vendors ranging from bike builders, painters, dealers, misc biker garb, several charity booths and a few that defy a short explanation. They gave out over 20 trophies for their various contests: bike show, tattoo, beard, longest trip, and long distance. Four bands played over a 2-day period at Quatat Park, an outdoor venue overlooking the canal.
The organizers made donations to Seaside Downtown Development for their Christmas lighting fund and to the Seaside Food Bank.
The Oregon State HOG Rally chose Bike Fest at Seaside as their final destination of a 3-day ride, rolling in on Saturday for an overnight stay.
Bike Fest at Seaside offers something that few other events offer, a boardwalk that stretches for miles along the ocean beaches and the convention center, hotels, shops, restaurants and night life are in close walking distance to each other. You can park your bike at your hotel on Friday, relax and enjoy the ambience of Seaside without getting back on your bike until Sunday. The truth is, that wasn’t my “plan”. My plan was to hop on our bikes on Saturday and check out the surrounding towns. The plan changed when my friends reminded me this was a mini vacation and vacations on bikes with friends should never have a plan. Of course it didn’t take much convincing to go with the flow once I peeled off my sweaty boots, rolled up my pants and took a stroll down to the beach and let the salt water and sand wiggle beneath my toes. Seaside had me hooked!
What made a huge impression on me was the warm reception by the Seaside businesses and residents. Many establishments had the staff sporting Bike Fest tshirts as a show of support to the riders. No matter where we dined, the food was excellent and promptly served by smiling, energetic faces!
For organizers, Marjorie and Gary of Flashback Promotions, who put their hearts and souls into Bike Fest, each year is a learning curve. It’s impressive that they truly listen to rider feedback and are open to suggestions on ways to make the next year even better. They have already come up with a few new ideas for 2009: They will offer women’s tank tops as an event shirt choice and they are working to get permission to close down Broadway, the main drag, for bike parking only. If you are a vendor who did not attend you definitely missed out on a good time and a great opportunity for exposure and income.
Important Note: Next year’s Bike Fest at Seaside 2009 date has been changed to July 17th -18th. If you have already made reservations for next year please double check the date.