Article and Photos By: Missi Shoemaker and Kayla Koeune
Originally Published In The August-September 2020 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
What better way to spend your 50th Birthday weekend? Hanging out with friends, impressive choppers, and beautiful art! That’s how I spent mine at the 16th Annual David Mann’s Chopperfest! My weekend started out meeting up with a high school friend who I hadn’t seen in years. She and I went to the hosted Pre- Party at The Tavern. The place fi lled up pretty quickly. The weather wasn’t very cooperative as it was chilly and drizzling, but we made the most of it on the backyard patio where there were heaters set up. Due to the weather, there were only a few bikes that showed up for the ride up bike show. But the live music made up for it, and it was defi nitely a good time. I ran into so many people I knew, including the California Cowboy Stacy McCleary and his beautiful wife, Danell.
This being my first west coast event, I was pretty excited to be here but was very disappointed in the weather. Southern CA is supposed to be hot and sunny… no, it was cold and rainy, but that didn’t stop the fun! Fortunately, I checked the forecast and was prepared. I arrived at the Ventura C o u n t y Fairgrounds, and there were already quite a few people there, and several bikes were lined up for the show. I took my fi rst lap around and was amazed by the number of beautiful bikes all in one show!
I was just getting into the groove of shooting the bikes when a downpour hit and forced me inside, but what an excellent opportunity to check out the Art Show portion of the event! Artists from across the country join together to pay tribute to artist David Mann with a vast array of motorcycle and hot rod inspired art. Biltwell hosted the Helmet Art Show, featuring artwork from eleven different artists, including one of my favorites Kayla Koeune. The eclectic variety of art on display included paintings, metal art, and more.
The best art on display was, of course, the original artwork from none other than David Mann himself. The David Mann collection in itself is always worth taking the time to admire. Mann was a painter born in Kansas City, MO, who, after graduating high school, made the journey to California, where he became involved in motorcycles and motorcycle culture of which he himself became immersed in. In the early ’70s, his work began appearing in Easyriders magazine after he had answered an ad for “motorcycle artist” that appeared in the magazine. David Mann’s Chopperfest became a tribute to his life and art after his death in 2004. Stepping into the swap meet area, I found there were lots of parts to be bought, and here I was with nothing that I needed to buy, but of course, I looked anyway, because you never know! Outside along vendor row, you could buy just about anything you need. I even ran into my friend Roy and his sidekick Roxy from Helmet Division, who was set up selling old school helmets and tool rolls. I was able to spend some time with Mondo and his crew as well, which is always a pleasure.
The sun finally came out, and the bike show area was hopping. So many beautiful choppers all in one place. THIS is what I came for! I don’t get to see the west coast scene very often, only when assisting Michael Lichter during the yearly Sacramento show, so this is a treat for sure! Of course, when there is a $2500 cash prize for best of show, the best bikes show up in hopes to claim that title! As the time for awards came, the winner’s names were called, and they lined their bikes in front of the stage, and anxiously awaited to see which title they get to claim. The Mann Kind award was presented by previous recipient, Mondo Porras, of Denver’s Chopper to Keith Drum. Mike “Majik Mike” Rabideau was presented with the Ross Tomas Award from Kiwi Mike and Carolyn in memory of their son Ross who was a huge part of Chopperfest until his untimely passing. Best of show went to Dalton Walker for his beautiful digger! I am told the attendance was down due to the weather, but I am looking forward to going back in 2020 to see what David Mann’s Chopperfest has to offer when it’ in full swing. Maybe I’ll see you there!