UNADILLA, GA., APR. 8-13—When one man dreams big, he has to convince others his vision is worthy of their attention. Wayne Smith is one such man and his dream of many years materialized 17 rallies ago in the form of Angel City where, since 2005, both a spring and fall event have been held every year. After many years researching bikers’ wants and needs (i.e. attending rallies), this 100-acre facility was built strictly with the desires of bikers in mind. It has been in the forefront of biker promotions in the Southeast since its inception and has been rated in listing of the top-10 national events several times.
The central theme of the buildings takes on the country influence of Dooly County with the use of recycled, weathered wood from old barns and homes from the surrounding area. The western flare of the storefronts, corner bars and restaurants in the “town” center and the rusted tin roofing gives you a sense of the laid-back atmosphere of country living. The onsite amenities and entertainment permit those so inclined to enter the property and never leave until you have reached your good-time limit.
The opening of the Spring Rally was on Tuesday this year, although the largest number of bikers usually shows up on Friday for the weekend. Wayne has always been open to early arrivals, with some making an appearance days or even a week before the gates to Angel City officially open. Over the years some of these early birds have become like family and continue to make Unadilla home for a week or two each spring. But there were a number of new faces this April, many from the state of Florida. Angel City’s affiliation with Born to Run TV probably had something to do with this increase.
In 2013 the entire Southeast was kicked in the teeth continually by the weather, and promoters suffered from the uncertainty. The new year brought more of the same in the form of ice, snow, frigid temps and rain, but Angel City was blessed from the heavens with perfect weather throughout this weekend—warm days along with nights that had just enough chill to warrant a campfire to enjoy the company of old friends and new ones that might wander by. Accordingly, Wayne characterized the Spring 2014 rally as his second best to date.
Low-cost $2 beers are purveyed from the beer tubs by winsome lasses who also dance in the adjacent cages, and the full-service liquor bars serve up the brands most of us call our own. Budweiser has been a primary sponsor during the most recent past, so therefore only Bud-brewed products are served at Angel City. Those Floridians must have been thirsty, because the bars sold 135 more cases of Budweiser this year than they did last spring. Cost of the suds was a determining factor with a case of Bud at the Angel City store selling for less than at the truck stop up next to I-75. Another bonus is the variety of hot food selections that Angel City continues to promote including their pizza café and Georgia Bob’s BBQ hut, designed to slake the culinary quests of those hungry bikers who didn’t bring their own appetizing entrees. Also, along the boardwalks around the paved drive, various vendors hawk their products and services.
Angel City is also noted for its active support of our military, whether retired veterans or those currently serving our country. Saturday morning a ride formed at the Angel City Saloon for a trip to Andersonville to pay respects to personnel laid to rest in the National Cemetery and view the remnants of the infamous Confederate prison camp also located within the grounds. Trinity House was present selling chances to win a new bike and help our veterans. That evening, a moving ceremony honoring the missing in action was performed by veterans from all branches of our military services. This solemn event was conducted by Brother Fred Higgins, who has been instrumental in organizing these tributes at Angel City for several years. If there was a dry eye still at the scene, the playing of “Taps” to conclude the ceremony surely took care of that. Doug Taylor and his group were present with a Vietnam-era outfitted UH-1 Huey helicopter they haul from location to location to raise money for veterans’ benefits.
ABATE of Georgia conducted a bike show Saturday afternoon with winners in numerous categories. ABATE 13 was in charge of the combination membership drive and fundraiser event. Biker games included the traditional slow race, wienie bite, cone and ball drop, as well as the helmet toss. Go-kart races were held on the dirt track just outside of the vendor area. If you have the opportunity check them out—these are no off-the-shelf kiddie carts. Mini outlaw racers would be a more apt description. All they need is one of those ginormous wings to help hold the front end on the ground.
The entertainment lineup is always filled with acts of various genres. The headline act this time was the Michael Allman Band, and supporting acts included one of the best tribute bands ever. When you listened to Problem Child and closed your eyes, you would swear AC/DC was onstage. Brent Cobb, an up-and-coming Georgia country singer in the tradition of other local stars like Luke Bryan, played the pavilion stage. Additional musicians including Damn Skippy, Jeff Vaughn Band, and Joe Santana played a variety of music into the wee hours of the morning. DJ Bucky Helms provided musical interludes during the bike games, wet T-shirt contest, light show and bare buns contest.
If you felt the urge to burn it down to the ground, Randy’s Cycle Shop brought a wide selection of tires to replace those left without enough tread or air to reach their final destination after the weekend. They would sell you a new tire, and for a mere $65 they would mount the new rubber. If you were lucky enough to win the burnout competition you got the tire and mounting for free.
Also on hand was author W.T. Harrell. A former one-percenter known as “RoadBlock” who spent 30 years in the federal pen, he has written two books in the historical novel format that chronicle the lifestyle and events of the biker culture starting in the early 70’s. The books are interesting and good reads. If you spent any of your youth in Atlanta or other cities mentioned, you will recognize the area described. We even traded several stories about our experiences in hippie town Atlanta. Of course, his memory was better than mine, but then he’s had more time to reflect on the past than I did.
Incidents are few at Angel City, but one young lady who was attending her first bike rally was riding passenger on a bike that went awry. She will be OK, we were told, but she will require some reconstructive surgery. After the military tribute the hat was passed, with Wayne and Dawn Smith starting the fund to aid the injured girl with $200 from their own pocket. The generosity of those present raised some $1,200 toward her expenses.
The fall rally is a Halloween-themed event, so if you like to play dress-up and hang out with like-minded adults enjoying themselves, be sure to put Angel City on your October calendar.