Anamosa, Iowa, June 27–29—This one has been on my agenda for years, and this year I finally made it there. The 35th annual J&P Cycles Open House Rally, which is the largest bike rally in Iowa, was a complete success as more than 30,000 motorcycle enthusiasts from across the country converged for a weekend of music, celebrities, stunt shows, sweepstakes, auctions, raffles, barbecue, drinks, attractions for the kids and the largest vendor alley of any type for motorcycle wear, as well as a parts fair to tickle your fancy.
Bikes from states including Arizona, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Illinois, Pennsylvania, New York, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin and, of course, Iowa, showed up for three days of motorcycle camaraderie. As always, J&P Cycles, an industry leader in aftermarket motorcycle parts, accessories and apparel, played host to its many visitors and vendors such as Avon Tyres, Biker’s Choice, S&S Cycle, Vance & Hines, National Cycle, The HER Project, manufacturers, and more than 100 other vendors.
This three-day rally affords plenty of activities for everyone in the family, and of course some sweet deals on motorcycle products and services from the top vendors across the nation. Some of the local motorcycle vendors sell everything from jewelry to leather goods; sometimes they are handmade, original designs. They mostly had everyday things you need for riding a motorcycle, and if you couldn’t find what you were looking for at this event, you probably didn’t need it anyway.
Despite sketchy weather conditions, Friday kicked off with a bang as enthusiasts showed up to participate in the motorcycle-themed fun, including thousands of dollars in products donated and given away as door prizes and for raffles. Discounted motorcycle parts, apparel and even installation specials were available from select vendors. The skilled stunt team antics of 1 Wheel Revolution wowed the crowds with their awe-inspiring wheelies and burnouts, and the show continued late into the evening despite a brief downpour as MySelfishMe performed before headliner Hairball brought down the house to hundreds of music-loving fans. Check out Hairball if you ever get a chance; these guys are phenomenal!
Saturday brought massive sunshine, and with it massive crowds of two-wheeled enthusiasts that were treated to a free lunch courtesy of Allstate. There were hourly door prizes announced throughout the day by emcee “Pipes,” and more stunt show adventures by 1 Wheel Revolution, which bills themselves as “North America’s leading V-twin entertainment company.” 1Wheel Revolution has years of motorcycle entertainment experience and lives up to their name performing one-wheeled stunts with speed and power. Each stunt show is choreographed and narrated by the riders via their in-helmet microphones.
Other cool things to do included many vendors’ hands-on demonstrations of the hottest new products on the market—I totally dug the ink sleeve apparel. There were kid-friendly events; walk-around magic and balloon animals, and for all ages an appearance by Sons of Anarchy stars Kim Coates, a.k.a. Alexander “Tig” Trager, who was signing autographs for hours for the ever-eager and zealous picture-taking fans. A free ride-in bike show was featured, which many took advantage of by participating in and showing off their prized sleds. Awards took place at 3:30 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday and included Judge’s Choice, Sponsors’ Choice, Exhibitors’ Choice, Best Paint, Best Chrome, and individual classes.
A silent auction was held to benefit the National Motorcycle Museum, and the museum provided free shuttle service back and forth the entire weekend. The National Motorcycle Museum in itself is a treasure that showcases the American motorcycle culture. If ever you have the opportunity to go, it’s a must-see adventure and not one to be missed.
American Picker (and fellow Iowan) Frank Fritz was in the house Sunday autographing photos and copies of his new book, How to Pick Vintage Motorcycles. Frank is a genuine guy; a motorcycle lover and aficionado who can be seen searching through parts bins at many local motorcycle swap meets. Frank even waved to me as he was coming into the park (oh gosh!).
Long lines formed several hours prior as fans anticipated meeting another Sons of Anarchy cast member, Mark Boone Jr., a.k.a Robert “Bobby Elvis” Munson. The TV star was graciously posing with fans and signing nearly anything they brought to him. I saw one girl get signed on the neck because that’s where she insisted. “Bobby” was a sport about it!
For those not willing to undergo the wait, there was plenty of other stuff to experience on this final rally day. Aside from Sturgis, this is the only place in the Midwest to see so many motorcycle manufacturers in one area, and motorcycle manufacturers we did see. Bell Helmets must have been having a fire sale, as many people exited the park with boxes of Bell lids. Other popular items seemed to be tires, gloves and sunglasses.
The rally grounds offered a lot of visitor opportunities to check out many different types of booths. The local Marine Corps recruiting station was on hand greeting people, discussing service life, honoring fellow vets and they even had a little contest of their own open to the public. The Pull-Up Bar Contest was for the “strong of mind” and certainly granted bragging rights to those that won.
Despite dodging a few raindrops throughout the weekend, J&P’s Open House Rally was definitely a well-spent time visiting with fellow industry friends and businesses while helping to raise funds for the eastern Iowa charity organization Camp Courageous, which provides exceptional year-round recreational and respite care opportunities for individuals with special needs and their families. The Camp had volunteers that were seen throughout the weekend manning water bottle booths and handing them out for free, helping to serve food and basically doing whatever they could to help make this year’s rally an enjoyable experience.
“A lot of work goes into putting this event together, so seeing so many motorcycles roll onto the grounds is truly humbling,” J&P Cycles General Manager Zach Parham exclaimed. Zach is founders/owners John and Jill Parham’s son, and basically grew up at events all his life as John started as a swap meet vendor from the back of the family’s Ford van. Since then, J&P Cycles has grown into one of the largest motorcycle parts and accessories retailers in the world. And this event isn’t just a bike rally; it’s a customer appreciation day, hence the free admission, food and entertainment.
John and Jill just recently stepped down as president and vice president and handed these roles down to their son. They said they would now like to turn their attention to operating the National Motorcycle Museum, which outgrew its last building and moved to a much larger facility in Anamosa last year. J&P Cycles will continue to support the museum through the annual bike raffle fundraiser and various other promotions they do throughout the year.
“We are so thankful for all our loyal customers, suppliers and friends who have supported us over the past three decades,” John said. “Together we have created a wonderful success story that would make anyone proud.” And proud they are!
Make your plans now to attend J&P’s Open House Rally June 27–28 next year. There is something for everyone, and you won’t want to miss it!