Bright Light City Gonna Set My Soul on Fire!
Story and Pictures by Angela Conner
Let me just begin by stating a simple fact, I do not gamble. I don’t know how to play the slots. I’m a sore loser and I’m against anything that cuts into my drinking money. That being said, I love Las Vegas Bike Fest! We go every year. To me Las Vegas provides amazing examples of unique artwork, a variety of talented entertainers and the opportunity for people from all walks of life to intermingle. The addition of motorcycles to Sin City merely intensifies my admiration.
Las Vegas Bike Fest was in full swing when we arrived Friday afternoon. We decided to bypass the blown glass flower garden at the Bellagio and the Roman Gods and Goddesses in Caesar’s Palace so that we could appreciate the artists at the Cashman Center. I was impressed with the variety of mediums represented at this event. There were oil paintings hanging next to hand-crafted leather pieces and custom silver jewelry displayed near tattoo artists’ portfolios. Beautiful paintings on canvas by well-known artist David Uhl hung near the collections of fellow painters Jim Myer and Darren McKeag. Jim, a small town artist from South Dakota, had driven straight through the night to attend the event and was hoping to sell a piece of his artwork so he’d have gas money to get back home. Darren, an Iowa resident, had created realistic portraits of faces that I’d seen in the crowd illuminated with joy and vivacity.
The Artistry in Iron Master Builders Championship was beyond belief. The amount of work that had gone into these mind-blowing creations was apparent to the untrained eye as well as the participants themselves. Christopher Phillips from Doomtown Choppers won the People’s Choice Award with his metallic orange ’53 Panhead long bike. I was especially impressed with its Horse Magazine- inspired seat, crafted by Curt Green from Bare Bones Leather. Rick Bray from RKB Kustom Speed took home the Peer Judged title of Champion for the second year in a row along with a specially designed 2 carat diamond bracelet created by jeweler Steve Soffa. His silver custom shovelhead demanded respect and was dedicated to his close friend who had recently passed.
Entertainment for the weekend was not in short supply at the Cashman Center. There was a diverse assortment of contests to participate in such as Best Facial Hair, Biggest Beer Belly, and World’s Strongest Biker Competition. The burnout contest proved to be quite the spectacle with the winner receiving a set of brand new Metzeler tires. Mr. and Miss Las Vegas Bike Fest were both crowned and of course there was the customary wet t-shirt contest. The beautiful Jasmine Cain and equally talented Craig Morgan were on hand to fulfill the music lovers’ appetite as well as the legendary band Kansas. The line to meet SOA cast members Mark Boone Junior and Tommy Flanagan wrapped around the outdoor vendors. The two stayed long past the original autograph session so that every fan could get their coveted photo.
There was even more entertainment to be found off of Fremont Street at a little bar I like to frequent called Hogs and Heifers. Proprietor Michelle Dell Ramsey, had blocked off 3rd street and created a massive structure for her lovely bartenders to serve drinks from as well as dance upon. Her New York crew was in house supporting their sisters to the west. The music blared as the spirited mob whooped and hollered late into the morning hours. This was definitely where the masses came to see and be seen.
The variety of people in the crowd was both entertaining and interesting. A group of clean-shaven, bedazzled bike builders stood on the right side of the street while scruffy bearded, overall wearing wrenches gathered to the left. I noticed pin up beauties cheering on the scooter races between a Gene Simmons impersonator and old school biker Pat Ford. Reality TV stars from Counting Cars, #BikerLive, Pawn Stars, Biker Battleground Phoenix, and Sturgis Raw rubbed elbows with the masses. Somehow the assortment melded together into one big celebration of everything motorcycle related.
Chris Callen from Cycle Source had set up a camera and was conducting interviews with “the man on the street.” When Chris announced the winners of the Best Bikes on the Strip Contest, I was only too proud to hear that fellow QT minions Perry and Traci had won for Best Trike! They posed for a few pictures after local Vegas artist Zorac personalized their well-deserved trophy. Like every good rally, when Sunday morning came around people began to head back home. Fortunately, we were able to stay an extra night because I still had money in my pocket from not gambling. So we hung out with the locals and had another round.
As Hunter S. Thompson once said “We’d be fools not to ride this strange torpedo all the way out to the end.”