Article and Photos By: Milwaukee Mike
Originally Published In The June 2012 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
As I have said in the past when talking about the Donnie Smith Bike Show, it is a sure sign that the end of winter is near and that a new riding season is about to begin. This year was no exception as it was one of the mildest winters we have had in recent years and the waiting was over, about 3 weeks ahead of schedule. The main evidence of this was the extraordinary amount of bikes that festooned the streets of downtown St Paul. I have not seen that many bikes parked on the streets in the last 5 years of attending this show. Another good indicator was that the Friday night warm-up party at Teach’s garage was done with the overhead door open. That has never happened as long as I have been going there. Usually, there are at least a couple of inches of snow still lingering on the ground. As this trip has become old hat for me, it is never boring, as it is the first chance for us “northerners” to get together for some out of town fun in the “Mini Apple.” Like in years past, the crews from Canada and North Dakota come down and then the party is on! It also gives us the chance to pull out the phones and cameras to show off what has been going on with each other during the long, cold winter months. For some, it is bike projects or bike products, new vehicles, winter vacations and of course kids and pets.
So no one will forget the thing that got me interested in heading to this show in the first place, I’ll remind you that it was the inclusion of the High School Challenge and the kids that compete in it. That aspect of the bike show started back in 2006 when Teach’s Kennedy Chopper Class kids competed against another Minnesota high school. In years past, there have been high school teams that come as far away as New York. To get a feel of how these programs are shaping the future possible builders and fabricators is quite a unique thing. I always enjoy the walk down the row of ever growing bikes that represent the different programs that are springing up all over the country. Like I said earlier, this event is not only a celebration of saying good-bye to Old Man Winter, but it also marks the birthday of the show’s namesake, Donnie Smith. That’s right, for those of you who are unaware, the bike show has always coincided with Donnie’s birthday and this year would be his 70th. Although I didn’t make it over to Whiskey Junction for the party, if it was anything like last year’s, the Hamsters did it up right, I’m sure!
As in years past, the quality of bikes in the show is very high while the swap meet had treasures galore as a few people I know walked out of there with some full baskets. I was told, after the fact, that the attendance this year was over 30,000 people. That’s not too bad for a little show in the Midwest in what can be a rotten time of year to be in Minnesota. I was impressed, as always, by the showing from the Viking chapter of the AMCA and also liked the iconic Panhead that is owned by Tom Fugle. Of course those were by no means the only bikes that were worth mentioning. If you watch the pages of this magazine over the next few months, you will see what I am talking about as I got a few treats to show everyone. So feast your eyes on some of the photos and drink in the visual cornucopia of different bikes on these pages and if you like what you see, don’t miss next year’s show and make a point to be there.