SAMSULA, FLA., MAR 16–Throughout the year, the Cabbage Patch (literally located in the middle of rural nowhere) is a cozy tavern with a cow pasture out back. But twice a year it becomes a Mecca for those in the two-wheeled Daytona crowd that are eager for a Main Street alternative. So when the powers that be decided to move the car races back a week, thus moving Bike Week back a week this March, some of us had to make some hard decisions about whether we could even attend Bike Week this year. While straddled with a real job (a calling, actually), I decided I only had the final Saturday of Bike Week to put in an appearance and, most likely, attend only one event. But how does one go about choosing just one place to go when the entire Daytona seacoast opens up their hospitality doors? Looking back to Bike Weeks past, it seemed a rather easy choice.
Florida weather did not disappoint the masses as folks started rolling in to Daytona 2013. Chillier than previous years, with a hint of Southern spring in the air, the headwinds were kind with the highways providing clear sailing. Interstate 95 wasn’t that packed so the ride up was uneventful with only the songs in my head for company. I arrived early, but immediately discovered that parking came at a premium: five bucks a bike and 10 bucks a car. Owner of the Cackleberry RV & Camping Grounds, Frank Luznar, told me that if the congestion dictates the need for the sheriffs to direct traffic, we all must pay to park. And on this final Saturday, the boys in blue were out. But… for those in the know, parking was also available on the south side of this ancient tavern and motorcycles are still allowed to thread their way through the entire event should you have that desire. On this final Saturday, there will be girls wrestling in a thousand-pound mix of vegetation with a huge crowd of fans present to record every oily moment. The Southern comfort atmosphere prevailed with both tourists and locals enjoying the numerous multicultural vendors, loads of beautiful girls confident in their selection of skimpy attire and four stages of live music. And the great diversity of unique individuals only adds to the mix. These are the reasons I chose the Cabbage Patch as my one and only stop this year.
Now into its fifth generation of a Samsula family, Ron and Roger Luznar are in charge of the tavern and the immediate surrounding party area, while Uncle Frank and Aunt Linda spearhead the Cackleberry camping section. Way back in 1926, Great Aunt Olga Weber had the foresight to understand the adage, if you build it, they will come. Originally called Sopotnick’s Corner Tavern, the name was changed in the ’50s to the Cabbage Patch. Roger says ever since Bike Week began, it’s been the bikers who have sought out their special little corner and eventually tagged it with that title. Way back in Olga’s day, this was farmland with no Speedway and no A1A oceanfront anything. Ron and Frank Luznar grew up here, playing on farm equipment, tractors and derelict cars alongside tiny alligators, the local swamp residents. Ron Luznar would go on to become a chemist and physics professor. Out of the 50 acres they inherited, only 10 are used today, and while the brothers have definite options with their properties, both are doing well at keeping Aunt Olga’s vision alive and well—entrenched within the biker lifestyle.
This year only one wedding was held at the Cabbage Patch with Greg and Terri Kelley coming in from St. Pete to tie the knot. They were elated they could have the use of a stage for their ceremony, especially since this cute couple has been coming to the Patch for the past 34 years. Even when Bike Week or Biketoberfest is not part of the calendar schedule, riders show up here throughout the year to add a Central Floridian feel to their vacations.
The wet T-shirt contest took an expanded amount of time to parade plenty of willing females around the main pit area for crowd applause and ultimately an approving victory. Winner Mindy took home the big prize of 100 bucks while the other girls received ripped-up shirts. Mindy also won the honor of posing for pictures alongside the Keg Car, a running vehicle that takes pride in its own special fame. Ron Wharton was commissioned by Stroh’s to make 50 of these, but as we know, sometimes plans change and only 19 were ever built. The body is one-piece construction designed to look like an aluminum beer can. It’s also street legal, having logged more than 3,000 miles. It holds a keg up front and the taps flow without worry!
But seriously, the main attraction remains the coleslaw wrestling that takes place on Wednesday and Saturday during Bike Week, and again during Biketoberfest in the fall. Padded by four mattresses supporting some serious tonnage of cabbage, Wesson oil is then lovingly poured in with the women of Florida coming to compete and mix it all together while fighting for the title of Queen Cabbage. The winner gets $500, with the runner-ups also receiving some scratch for their efforts. Unfortunately, the actual wrestling mat is so far away from the viewing public that unless you have a long lens, you only see thighs and arms flailing about. But the air remains scented, tinged with the thrill of cabbage and agony of defeat.
There were estimates that over 400,000 people were in attendance during Bike Week this year and about three-quarters of them ride to the Cabbage Patch. One can only imagine the amount of time and energy that goes into producing this bi-annual event. Jack Daniel’s, Cm Trek and Biker’s Choice all sponsored a bike show this year, and on any given day during the week you could enroll in additional competitions including the smallest breast contest, tattoo shows and, a first for this year, an L.E.D. bike parade. Onsite food concession and beer stands provide the nourishment bikers need, as well as a variety of aftermarket product vendors to shop from. The slogan for the day seemed to be, “If you like my cabbage, you’ll love my patch!”
During Daytona, you can even temporarily live here in school buses, RVs, old cars and tents with sleeping bags. You will party hard and sleep well into the morning, as bikers sit around campfires exchanging lies and telling the stories of their lives. Cackleberry Campgrounds are the ones directly to the west of the action for those riding south on Tomoka Farms Road, 15 miles southwest of Daytona at 549 County Road 415. Remember, parking is free except for the days when the cops are directing traffic, as they were this Saturday. But this is expenditure well worth the cost since you will want access even if you aren’t going elsewhere.
The Cabbage Patch is an old-school biker paradise for me during the Daytona mayhem—dusty as hell with eyes burning from the grit. Live blues music came from Lil’ Mikey and the Tornadoes in the dark tavern, as well as trusty service from 17-year veteran bartender Poppy. Her full liquor bar serves icy froths and little pink drinks, as well. And just outside are a thousand new friends, waiting to dance… and shop… and play in the grassy fields. Add to that hot chrome, bare-naked ladies, leather and lace and you’ve got what you need for great day out. What else would an aging biker babe need?
For more information contact Roger Luznar at 386.405.5525 or check out their website at www.cabbagepatchbar.com. Tell them you agree with Uncle Frank’s Rooster shirt; it’s more fun than should ever be allowed and downtown Daytona can wait.