A Show to Get Your Motors Running

By Beacon Staff

A group of motorcycle connoisseurs wants to rev up the biker culture in the Flathead by hosting a show featuring craftsmen and craftswomen for whom motorcycle culture is a form of self-expression.

The Serious Motorcycle Enthusiast Group (SMEG) is a new local club for anyone interested in anything associated with motorized bikes. This means motorcycles, dirt bikes, bicycles with peddle-start motors and everything in between, said SMEG founder Steve Kelley.

SMEG will host its inaugural motorcycle show on May 21 at the Flathead County Fairgrounds Expo building, an all-day event that will feature cycles from local and national builders, as well as local artisans who create the myriad accessories in biker culture.

Kelley, a well-known Flathead musician, said his venture back into the motorcycle world happened last winter, when he and his business partner Bob Lincoln were discussing their options after 14 years of successful events production.

One of their most notable successes is the Cajun Street Dance in Somers, and Kelley thought they could bring that kind of party attitude to the Flathead’s motorcycling culture.

Kelley has 40 years experience in the music business, much of it playing with his band Big Daddy and the Blue Notes. When he was not actively riding his motorcycle around, Kelley interacted with plenty of bikers after playing for hundreds of their events. With this experience, Kelley said he felt he understood how the biker world worked.

When he recently decided to get back into that world, however, Kelley said he found the Flathead’s biker culture fractured and disconnected. For example, dirt bike riders rarely interacted with Harley-Davidson riders, he said.

SMEG grew from a desire to unite the various biker factions, as did the idea for a motorcycle show.

“I wanted to build a fire under people, to say, ‘OK, you have the same basic passion, you like to ride,’” Kelley said. “Researching the show, I have found so many wonderful, talented people in this valley from airbrush artists to motorcycle builders to inventors.”

Bringing all these enthusiasts together would benefit everyone, he said, because they can work to build relationships and business connections.

“I hope that this show will put those people in the same place. I hope they will communicate now,” Kelley said. “I’m trying to help them increase their client base, to introduce everybody.”

The May 21 show will feature many of the different sides of motorcycle culture. This means highlighting travel experiences, clothing, fun and music, Kelley said.

“It’s just a big party. We’ve got a great band, a beer garden; it should be a social situation,” he said.

Some of the major vendors will include Montana Harley-Davidson, Penco Power Product, Lelands Honda and Suzuki, Kurt’s Polaris and Jesco Boat Center. The products on show will be what Kelley describes as “eye-candy” for the show’s participants, including some of the latest makes and models.

Independent motorcycle builders will also have space to show their wares, Kelley said, noting his surprise at the number of these artisans in the Flathead.

The show’s organizers expect a large turnout because of the date. May 21 is Armed Forces Day in America, and is also the Canadian long weekend for Victoria Days.

The motorcycle show is also part of Kalispell’s Crazy Days weekend, which also includes other music and food events. For more information on Crazy Days, visit www.discoverkalispell.com.

While putting together a motorcycle show for the first time has presented its number of challenges, Kelley said he expects everything to come together well. He invited everyone to stop by and check it out, even those who have no prior interest in the motorcycle world.

“There’s something for everybody; you can come and look even if you aren’t a motorcycle enthusiast and, gee, you might turn into one,” Kelley said. “We’re going to try to dispel outlaw biker image. These guys are artists.”

The SMEG Motorcycle Show takes place May 21 from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the county fairgrounds Expo building. Entrance costs $10; kids 12 and under are free. For more information on SMEG, visit www.smeg406.com, email [email protected] or call 406-857-3119.

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