Bikers riding up the hill on the way into the festival

Mountainfest Motorcycle Rally

By Dave Hull

Music in the hills

Morgantown, W.V., July 26–29—West Virginia Mountainfest has been taking place for 14 years. In those 14 years, according to the event’s official announcer Jack Schit, the motorcycle rally has raised over a million dollars that goes to funding Mylan Park. Mylan Park and the parking lot of Triple S Harley-Davidson are the main venues of the rally, and those two locations have about four miles of West Virginia hills in between them. That makes covering the festival akin to being a master of ceremonies for a three-ring circus, with each of the three rings being in a separate tent, a football field length from each other.

Triple S, like all modern Harley dealerships, is housed in a roomy, mega-million-dollar structure. The Triple S building’s massive inside dimensions, combined with the rather large parking space that the dealership possesses, makes for plenty of room to host a good-sized party. They even have a permanent outside stage, just right for the occasion. That stage is continually occupied by bands during the entire rally. Those bands include a couple that I personally heard—Geneva, and the Davisson Brothers Band. Both of those groups appeared to give it their all to entertain their receptive motorcycle-riding audience.

Bikers riding up the hill on the way into the festival
Bikers riding up the hill on the way into the festival

Making a quick dash over to Mylan Park, I found more bands playing, and singing their hearts out, in hopes of applause and appreciation from the crowd. Mylan Park actually has two different stages on their premises. An indoor stage is nestled inside the Coal Bucket Saloon (it’s an exhibition hall transformed to a very convincing redneck/biker bar each year during Mountainfest). There is also an outdoor stage at Mylan Park. That is where the venerated country western group Alabama would play Saturday evening to an appreciative and enthusiastic audience. I loved each and every song they played that night, and some are among my 20 top favorite songs of all times. Hearing Alabama further illustrates, to country music fans such as me, how inferior much of the so-called country music of today is, in comparison to the older stuff that use to come out of Nashville.

BFS (convenience stores) sponsored a poker run with cards being handed out at various BFS locations. There was no charge to enter and the winning hand paid out a grand while the losing hand paid out half that. My question is, how can a hand that nets you $500 be a losing hand?

Wesbanco sponsored a Parade of Bikes, which gathered at the WVU coliseum and went down the main drag of Morgantown. And the Ives Brothers Wall of Death attraction was sponsored by Vision Homes. The Wall of Death riders put on a great show with their two well-balanced Aermacchi Harleys and some sort of single-cylinder rice burner. One guy even sold T-shirts from the seat of the rice burner, while cruising around the rim of the wall (fantastic merchandising idea to boost T-shirt sales). The wall riding put smiles on every single face of the spectators lining the platform at the top of the barrel.

Fire-eating girl at Coal Bucket Saloon
Fire-eating girl at Coal Bucket Saloon

Lakeview Resort sponsored the Ball of Steel attraction. That’s where riders buzz around on Japanese trail bikes, inside of a round cage like thing. Sorry, guys, but a single bike, going around and around that ball, with a helmeted rider, is mostly anticlimactic. Unlike the Wall of Death show, there is no real threat of death with this stunt. Two bikes in the ball would up the ante some. Removing the rice burner’s muffler, and giving it more throttle while going round and round, would also give the act more of a derring-do appearance.

Great grub was available in abundance at Mountainfest, with the smell of delicious pulled pork and beef brisket wafting through the air at both locations. Wild Bill’s, of Wild Bill’s Beef Jerky fame, had a great stand set up where they sold a variety of their root beers. I didn’t even know they made root beer. For $20 you could get a bottomless stainless steel mug. No, it wasn’t literally bottomless (what good would a mug like that be?) but the refills were unlimited.

When your bike got dusty from riding around the scenic West Virginia hills, you could pull in and get your baby scrubbed by the scantily-dressed gals who work for the International Bikini Bike Wash. If you needed to wet your whistle after eating that dust, you could get some cold beer from other scantily-dressed women. If you ventured into the Coal Bucket Saloon, you would be able to see a third set of scantily-dressed females eating fire (yes, real fire). Hell, there were even some scantily-dressed plus-sized women comparing tattoos at a nearby Burger King when I stopped in for a cold milkshake. They were showing a lot of fresh ink on those beefy bods, and when asked, stated that the ink work was done at Hog Fish Tattoos, who were set up right next to the Coal Bucket Saloon, at Mylan Park during the rally.

Mountainfest attracts a blue million Harley-Davidson riders. It offers a damned sweet music festival with lots of our motorcycling brothers and sisters in attendance. If you haven’t already checked it out, be sure to do so next year. If you were there this year, I have a feeling you’ll be back next year. 

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