Trying to determine the exact point where Mr. Bikefest was created is tricky. Ron was always an entertainer; he created a fun and welcoming atmosphere everywhere he went. His personality combined with a passion for conquering new challenges means he was always getting into something. The defining moments leading to Mr. Bikefest started in 2001.
My dad and I had just finished the 1941 flathead and decided to debut that beauty at Daytona. With no preparation and little knowledge about that famous beach town, it was by chance that I entered and won the Daddy Rat ride in bike show. Best thing I ever did. Ron was so proud to show off that bike and tell our story. He couldn’t wait to take it to the next show or park it at River’s Edge and talk to anyone that was fascinated by our bike.
Simultaneously, the Showmen’s club had come alive with motorcycle enthusiasts. Our members had brainstormed a single-day event staged at the Showmen’s club with a fundraising poker run. Enter Mr. Bikefest, his new enthusiasm for motorcycles, involvement of family and friends, and the challenge of creating an entirely new entertainment event had Ron excitedly jumping in with both feet. As a past president and active member of the Showman’s club, Ron had member support and started making preparations for an event we all know today as Gibtown Bikefest.
Ron’s vision for Gibtown Bikefest was more than just an event for motorcycle enthusiasts. He wanted to create a safe event that was fun for the entire family, showed off the talents and abilities of his showmen community, and provided non-stop entertainment. To do this he allowed camping at the Bikefest to make sure riders didn’t need to drive after drinking; created activities for children like face painting, and had fellow showman members perform during the event, cook delicious carnival eats, and showcase our philanthropic endeavors.
Ron’s greatest passion was finding entertainment for the event. He recruited headliners like Confederate Railroad and Bobby Friss, who became a stable at the Bikefest throughout the years. Ron also sought local bands like Randy McNeely and Ben Myer that were full of talent and deserved the opportunity to perform for an audience. The Bikefest in its early days was 6 days of bikes, music, and sideshow talent unequaled at any motorcycle event. With the added bonus of it being completely free, word quickly spread, and the event gained notoriety every year.
For 11 years Ron dedicated time, money, and passion for creating the most entertaining bike event in the world. Families and friends could come and dance to classic rock, listen to steel drums, witness death-defying stunts, drink a cold beer by the water, eat a variety of home cooked and carnival foods, and camp within walking distance to it all. This is how I am certain my dad lives on. He is a part of the joy that is in the memories of anyone who has attended Gibtown Bikefest.
Thanks for the memories Mr. Bikefest.
In Loving Memory
May 26, 1945 – Feb 2, 2018