Thousands of bikers invaded Greenwood. A “Sons of Anarchy” convention? No, a family reunion.
A horde of people wearing riding leathers and riding motorcycles of every model and type might cause consternation for some. To the Black Cats Motorcycle Club, the Saturday bike and car show was a chance for handshakes and hugs.
It’s like a family reunion, club vice president Darryl Lukie said as riders and motorcycle fans rode into the Greenwood Fairgrounds. Most people set up grills and met people they might not have seen in a year.
“It’s just everybody hanging out and having a good time,” he said.
The bike and car show started in 1973, he said. A bunch of guys decided to get together back then and the show evolved. It draws riders from all across South Carolina with people also coming from Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee.
This year’s event is a return to normal since last year’s event was canceled because of COVID-19, Lukie said. It was the first time in 48 years the show wasn’t presented.
Proceeds help the Black Cats support programs such as food shelters, the American Cancer Society and even a scholarship program for children of members, he said.
At its peak, the bike and car show drew from 10,000 to 20,000 people, a visitor said. Unfortunately, turnout is down. One attendee admitted the event perhaps drew half that number.
Still, that’s a lot of horsepower in one place.
Many kinds of two-wheel to three-wheel vehicles were lined up, including Honda, Kawasakis and Rykers, Slingshots and Can Ams. Some looked like concept vehicles with futuristic designs and if one had a rolling grill of red lights on its front, it could have passed for the black sheep stepson of KITT from “Knight Rider.”
The event is a chance to show off motorcycles and the work the owners have done on them, Lukie said. Custom bikes are big things for many people. They will show off their stereo equipment and all the work they have done.
“The sky’s the limit as to how much effort they put into these things,” he said.
Judging for motorcycles and cars started about 5:30 p.m. Vehicles include all kinds of models from trucks, convertibles and SUVs to a contest for the loudest and clearing sound systems.
Attendees had their favorite models and when asked most answers were similar:
Harley-Davidson? “Of course.”
For some, Harleys are a tradition. Roxanne Keese said she got her first motorcycle when she was 6 years old. It was a mini-Harley-Davidson X-90. Her father bought her first real-sized Harley, a Sportster 1000, two days before her 15th birthday. She continues to ride Harleys.
A longtime visitor to the show, Keese admitted she doesn’t enter competitions. For her and others, it’s all about meeting people and renewing old acquaintances.
Keese’s attention was focused on cooking. Like many others, she intended to cook chicken. Unlike others, she presented a tray or assorted fruits and her “famous deviled eggs” made with a recipe from her mother. As a result, Keese might have offered the healthiest meals at the show.
Robert Jackson of Athens, Georgia, represented Lyke Know Othrz motorcycle club. He said he has been coming to Greenwood for 15 years. Brotherhood is the reason he keeps coming. He said it’s great and it gets better every year.
He owns a Honda Gold Wing and lauded it for its comfortable ride. He didn’t bring it this year, bringing instead a grill that he used to cook chicken and spare ribs. He doused the meat in a sauce that was sweet and spicy with heat that lasted long after the meat was eaten. Not at all healthy, but the ribs were so good, you wouldn’t care. Then he started selling plates.
It’s all good-natured fun. Rap and hip hop blared from speakers at most tents as people stretched out in chairs and on blankets to talk shop and swap stories. Fellowship trumps jealousy and competitiveness, although pride was evident in the rows of motorcycles that looked like they had just come out of the showroom.
“All rallies are really a good thing. It’s all about brotherhood,” said Ed Freeman of Estill. He said he has ridden up to 50,000 miles and has visited almost every state. He has been riding for 30 years. “I saw everybody else, so I wanted to do it, too,” he said when asked how he got into riding. “It’s like anything else, you get started and you get hooked.”
Brotherhood was evident where Bug and Tracy Dunlap of Greenwood set up a shelter. It was filled with family and friends kicking back with various drinks, awaiting a meal from one of the show’s most unique sights. Tracy’s grill was a converted filing cabinet. He said it was a military-grade model that he stripped down, put grills in each drawer and added ventilation. He said he got the idea from a YouTube video.
It can cook chicken, ribs, burgers and sausages. He recalled cooking an 18-pound brisket. He put it in about 9:30 a.m. on a Super Bowl Sunday and it was done in time for the 6:30 p.m. kickoff.
Someone was impressed enough by the cooker to offer $100 for it. Dunlap turned him down.
Still, as impressive as the cooking arrangements were, most attention was on the vehicles.
One of the most eye-catching was an all-black three-wheeled Slingshot that looked like it could be in the next “Batman” movie. Owner Dwayne Waddell of Mauldin admitted some people have suggested that he dress as the Dark Knight when driving it.
It is a 5-speed motorcycle and is very fast thanks to upgrades. It is registered up to 220 mph, although Waddell said he has only taken it up to 140 mph. It handles great, especially in the mountains.
Unlike many people, Waddell said he isn’t a member of any club. His goal at rallies is to enjoy the atmosphere and hospitality and check out other cars and bikes.
“I will be back. The Black Cats put on a good event,” he said.
Some attendees have a purpose in participating. Austin Hooper of Woodruff entered his 2000 Crown Victoria police interceptor in the car show to promote his interest in dealing with autism. He said he intends to paint the motor in shades of yellow, red, purple, orange and yellow, colors which represent autism awareness.
He and his son have the illness and he wants to get out a simple message: “Just because we have a disability doesn’t mean we can’t live a normal life.”
Hooper works as a firefighter with the Youngs Fire Department. This is his first time putting a car in competition.
A couple of people stopped by to sign their names on the rear panel of the vehicle. His message must have impressed the judges as they awarded Hooper a second-place trophy.
“I’ll go home and put it on the shelf,” he said.