Article And Photos By: Darren McKeag
Originally Published In The November 2014 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
It was an early Thursday morning, very early by my standards and I woke to the flickering of my bedroom lights and a voice I’ve known for 47 years. I had found myself up late the night before, per my usual evenings, trying to prepare for the coming day. Few people, very few people have access to my compound, this familiar voice however, is at the top of that access list, my Dad. His task for the morning, get me out of bed and get us rolling East. My Dad and I don’t often get to spend a lot of time together, but when we do, the time we share evolves around the world of motorbikes. It is because of him that I love these machines.
Every year around the end of August, the State of Iowa gets recognized for more than the gold that grows in the fields. If you’re into motorbikes and the parts that make them up, then you know what gold I’m referring too. Rusty gold, rare gold and even barn find gold that attracts people from all around the Article And Photos By: Darren McKeag world to find the one, single, little part they are looking for to make their almost original bike, completely original. One of the many great things I enjoy about the swap meet is that it caters to every brand of two wheeled motorbike that ever existed. Seeing some of the bikes I grew up on and around, always brings back great memories. What’s even better, is watching people buzz by on these motorbikes, and they are all usually for sale, with a sign and price tag on them.
This year marked the 43 year of the Davenport, Iowa Swap meet and vintage races and it was sure to be an interesting one. I had already pre loaded the Silver Dragon for it’s 2.5 hour Eastern Journey, so once we had fuel and a coffee, Dad and I were East bound and down. I always enjoy our time together, as it gives us a chance to talk about anything and everything. With all the conversation, it wasn’t long and we were in the big city of Davenport. It was around 9 a.m., and the Fairgrounds were already full and buzzing with vendors, looking for those early bird deals.
Dad and I had found our spot, T-23, right on top of the blacktop path that ran through the Fairgrounds. Once the van was positioned, we unloaded and set up the booth, complete with magazines, art and motorbike parts. I didn’t have a lot of parts, but what I had was old and unique and caught the eyes of several people passing buy. Within the first 30 minutes of being set up, several of my good friends in the industry had stopped by the booth to say hello. Charlie and Wahl E., from The Motordrome Wall of Death, my other good brothers, Rick from Rick’s Cycle, Charlie the Nomad, Grimey from Striped Down Cycles, Michael from Flying Weasel, Minnesota Joe and Dave. Warren from Atomic Metalsmith made it all the way up from Florida. I had a wonderful greeting party and it looked as though it was going to be a great weekend.
As Thursday afternoon came upon us, the storm clouds from the West rolled in and they were full of precipitation. The rain didn’t stop for several hours, and by the time the clouds had moved East, the fairgrounds had turned to swamps and vendors sitting in the grass had parts under 5 inches of water. It was a complete washout, but we didn’t let that slow us down. We made the best of it with cold beer and good conversation, surrounded by motorbikes and parts. As Friday rolled around, it started out dry, and the foot traffic was somewhat busy, but once again, mother nature had other plans for us. She dumped another few inches on us and kept all the people with back packs full of Benjamin Franklins at bay.
By the time Friday night had rolled around, the flat track races had been delayed by a few hours, in an attempt to get the track dried out. Once the races were on, it was a great show to be seen. My good brother Heath was there with his race team. River Rat Cycle Fab of Davenport and his Rider “Itchy” put on one hell of a show and dominated the two classes they were in. The vintage class got under way and just after the main heat, mother nature stepped in again and managed to shut things down for the night. My good brother Scott Takes from Underground Art studios and a few other friends helped us drink some cold beer and close out the day.
Typically, mid Saturday is when vendors start to pull out of the fairgrounds. As of Friday night due to all of the rain, some vendors had left early. By the time Saturday morning had arrived, Dad and I had been exposed to enough moisture and sleeping in the van, that we decided to pack up. After saying goodbyes to everyone, we got back on the road and stopped for a nice sit down breakfast on the interstate. Another Davenport Swap meet had passed, all in all is was a great weekend. For the most part, the attendance seemed to be a bit low, but I think that was weather related. It seemed as though people weren’t buying much, but in their defense, Davenport prices were right where they’ve been the past few years, good as gold. It was great seeing everyone there, can’t wait until next year, see you all on the road…Much Love and respect “D” !!!