Article & Photos By: Steve Klein – Contributing Writer
Originally Published In The September 2016 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
Cycle Source Magazine is, of course, a part of the leading edge pioneering group of gas inhaling, 50wt bleeding Gearheadz that we are, and became an immediate sponsor of the Cherokee Pate Swap Meet in Texas in its inaugural year of 2015. To experience the Largest Display of Classic and Vintage Motorcycles from 1900 to 1980 in Texas in the Concours d’Pate Show plus to dig through vintage M/C parts for days in the over 400 vendor booth spaces is not for the faint of heart. Yes, it does seem that they do everything bigger in Texas! The Pate Swap Meet was started by Mr. Aggie Pate, an oilman from Houston and a few friends who loved old cars and all things powered when gasoline, air and spark are combined and an explosion occurs. Pate Swap Meet #1 was held at Mr. Pates small ranch outside of Fort Worth Texas in a pasture fenced off to keep his longhorns from getting too friendly with the cars. These visionary men decided it was time someone in The South had an event on par with Hershey PA.
Today, 45 short years later The Pate Swap Meet covers almost all of the vast real estate on the west side of Texas Motor Speedway’s NASCAR facility just North of Fort Worth. The Meet has over 10,000+ vendor spaces and over 16 miles of vendor lined streets with everything imaginable transportation related. Pick any transportation period from 1900 to the present and it is represented at Pate. Signs, petroliana, gas pumps, a huge car show covering the Brass Era through Muscle Cars is just a starting glimpse. Over 120,000+ attendees come annually through the free admission gates to get their Gearhead On. For one week this location becomes a small city with its own government, transportation, fire and police department.
The Cherokee Chapter of the AMCA had a similar vision; to start and build an event of similar magnitude for Classic and Vintage Motorcycles. You see Texans tire of driving 1,000–2,000 miles to attend M/C events in the Midwest, Northeast, Florida and the West Coast. Hell it takes a full day of driving just to get out of Texas. So the largest AMCA Chapter in America teamed up with Pate and started a helluva Classic M/C Event that should be a bucket list item for all diehard classic motorsickle riders and builders. Vendors from all over America converge here for 4 full days to enjoy this immense event. Kiwi Mike from Kiwi Indian is also a sponsor of the event and had an incredible booth of beautiful Indians. John Parham, The National Motorcycle Museum sponsors Cherokee. Revival Cycle and The Hand Built Show from Austin, who build some of the highest quality and artistic rides in America, had a huge WWII Army Tent where they displayed their machines and merchandise. Other heavy hitter sponsors included BikerNet, American Iron Magazine, Just Kickers (Dallas), RetroCycle (NJ), Dr. J Neuman’s Sagebrush Cycles, Carson Classic Motors and The Klein Collection, all from TX.
Texas sized weather threatened the event daily with momentary menacing clouds and tornadoes spotted all around the Dallas Fort Worth region. Only one brief 5-minute downpour of wet stuff hit the event site and blue skies and 70 degree temps prevailed daily. Just as people would remember them at any local hangout back in the day, the Concours d’Pate Show featured a two city block long row of rare machines displayed in Classes by Decade. American, British, German, and Asian machines all shared the same asphalt. There always is an entire row of 100+ year old Harleys, Excelsior’s, Indian’s, Flying Merkel, Thor and many more American brands at Cherokee. All of them ran and to the delight of the immense crowds most were ridden each evening after the event. A huge collection of 20’s through 50’s machines are always a crowd favorite and there were plenty of unmolested, original paint, original condition Knuck and Pan Survivors to drool over and keep the barn find fantasy alive in all of us. Unlike the AMCA who really does not recognize period correct choppers and bobbers, Cherokee promotes them as well as all vintage racing machines in hill climbing, flat track, road race, motocross and drag racing formats. These Cherokee People flat get it!
Cherokee always has the most number of riders in the Cannonball Motorcycle Endurance Race across America. Many past and current Cannonball contenders displayed their machines including Victor Hugas from the very southern tip of Texas with his 1912 HD single that only needed final paint before this year’s race. Multiple Cannonball contenders Carson Classic Motors from East TX always brings a big trailer load of very early British Marques. This year they included some hot rod twin cam Harley’s and military machines as well. To top off an incredible M/C event, Cherokee had two tents full of Texas sized cooking equipment and long tables of BBQ ribs, brisket, sausage, chicken and all the fixins to feed the army of volunteers, vendors and sponsors, Texas Family Style. No one went hungry. Log on to www. CherokeeAMCA.org and www.PateSwapMeet. com to make plans for 2017. It seems in 1836 Col. Davey Crockett was right when he said “you can all go to hell and I’m going to Texas?”