The Bikers of Bikes, Blues and Barbecue 2015

The Bikers of Bikes, Blues and Barbecue 2015

Tranquility has returned to the Fayetteville Ozark hills and valleys after last week’s Bikes, Blues and Barbecue festival on Dickson Street.

The rumbling, screaming metal ponies and their leather-clad riders that swarmed through town in droves last week turned Dickson Street into a near constant loud noise parade. Smoked, sweetened and spiced meats provided a pleasant hickory scented breeze to waft throughout town, but along with it came the chemical stench of gasoline exhaust and burnt rubber.

It’s no secret many Fayettevillians disdain the motorcycle rally that comes each year — especially this year with many vendors selling Confederate flag merchandise while the controversy over it is at its peak.

So, now in tradition with the festival from last year, we hit up Dickson Street with a notepad and a camera and talked to bikers and festival attendees at random so we could learn about who makes the festival what it is on a micro level.

Essentially, many of the bikers in general look more intimidating than they are. Most of them are kind people with families and respectable jobs and simply just enjoy riding and the biker culture.

So, here we are. Meet a few of the bikers of Bikes, Blues and Barbecue.


Photo Contributed by Lauren Husband  Mark Whitaker

Photo Contributed by Lauren Husband
Mark Whitaker

Mark Whitaker

From Seattle, now lives on Table Rock Lake in Missouri with his wife. Mark is 60 years old and rides a Harley 2010 Street Glide. He’s been coming to Bikes, Blues and Barbecue for 14 years now, and he thought this year felt smaller in attendance than the previous years’ rallies.

Who means the most to you in your life?

WHITAKER: My wife. She’s a nurse, with a bachelor of science. She’s a teacher at Northwest Arkansas hospital in Harrison. I met her at the Top Rail in Springfield, Missouri. She kept bumping into my cowboy hat because she was wearing a big dress. She was a tall blonde with big tits so I married her and never left [laughs].

She wanted to get rid of me for a couple days, so she bought me a hotel room and told me to get out of town. So I was like, “Okay, I’ll go.” [laughs].”


Photo Contributed by Lauren Husband

Photo Contributed by Lauren Husband Larry Grist (center) with his wife Karen (right) and their best friend, Wynette Reece (left)

Larry Grist (center) with his wife Karen (right) and their best friend, Wynette Reece (left)

The trio hails from the Ft. Smith/Van Buren area. The Grists have been married for 30 years. They’ve been coming to the rallies for about 15 years, and Larry rides a 1999 Harley-Davidson White Glide,

What would you do if you had to spend a million dollars?

GRIST: I’d help the animal shelter where we live. I’d buy my wife and I a new motorcycle, buy us a big house out in the woods. I saw there’s a new charity down here that’s dogs for vets, I’d help them out. I’d just help people out, I don’t need a whole lot. We’d have the bikes and we wouldn’t have to work. We’d travel around.

REECE: We really want an RV. Two trikes, his motorcycle and we’d go around and pay it forward with service dogs, animal shelters and beds.


Takers Bike Club: Alex McLaughlin (left) and his wife, Jaye Johnson (right) and their cousin

Photo Contributed by Lauren Husband Takers Bike Club: Alex McLaughlin (left) and his wife, Jaye Johnson (right) and their cousin

Photo Contributed by Lauren Husband
Takers Bike Club: Alex McLaughlin (left) and his wife, Jaye Johnson (right) and their cousin

Riding since early Monday, McLaughlin came in on Wednesday night from from Fayetteville, N. C. This year’s rally was his fourth for McLaughlin and his wife. He’s also the president for his club, Takers. The club members consist of siblings and cousins, and motorcycles and Bikes, Blues and Barbecue serves as a family reunion. Motorcycle riding runs deep in the family.

McLaughlin rides a Suzuki Hayabusa GSXR 1300, and Jaye Johnson rides a 2001 Suzuki GSXR 750.

What does riding mean to you? What do you get out of it?

McLaughlin: It’s an enjoyment. Peace of mind. You just kind of clear your mind and relax. I’ll ride anywhere. There’s a handful of us in Takers, we’re not a big club or anything. It’s just a bunch of guys riding bikes that like to ride.

JOHNSON: Riding to me, that’s something that gives me a chance to take my mind off of things. Get away from everything and just be free, to be honest with you. You don’t really have any cares in the world. You just get out there and enjoy yourself. I started riding when I was 12 or 13 years old. I have older brothers and some cousins and they used to start riding, actually, my dad and my uncle, that’s who really got me started. They used to ride back in the 70s. That’s where it started, and it sort of trickled down to my cousins and my brothers and it trickled down to me. I’ve been around bikes pretty much my whole life.

What does the Takers club name mean?

McLaughlin: Just something different. A lot of bike clubs are really strict about their rules and riding together and all those different things. We’re just enjoying the family, getting together and having fun. We do whatever, peacefully.


Photo Contributed by Lauren Husband Victor Meza

Photo Contributed by Lauren Husband
Victor Meza

Victor Meza

This was Victor Meza’s first time ever to the festival, despite growing up in Fayetteville. Actually, the leather jacket he’s wearing in the photo had just been given to him by his newly befriended group of bike enthusiasts he had just met prior to talking with us.

What’s something people would be surprised to know about you?

MEZA: Hmmm… I’m trying to think about hidden talents. Well, I’m studying to be a teacher in public education grades four through eight. I want to teach science, social sciences and math. I also want to be involved with sports, I’m a soccer coach — oh, there’s my answer! I’m a soccer coach. I’ve been doing that.

It’s incredible working with youth. I see it as incredible that I’m a guy that has an opportunity to mentor kids, influence them and steer them in the right way. I just want to be a positive light to them and be a good role model to them.

When I was in middle school I had phenomenal teachers. One teacher went out of his way on my birthday and bought me a milkshake and took me boxing. It was a bad combination because I just threw up afterwards, but it was great. He was a good guy, he still keeps in touch with me and makes sure I’m doing okay. I want to do the same thing with other people.


Photo Contributed by Lauren Husband Delaney Williams

Photo Contributed by Lauren Husband
Delaney Williams

Delaney Williams

So, yeah, Delaney wasn’t a rough n’ tough biker like some of the other women out and about the festival, but she had a cool sparkly hat. That was enough. She was out with her grandparents and some of her cousins, each of them with big ol’ lemonade cups in hand.

Have you ever been on a motorcycle before?

WILLIAMS: Yeah my dad has drove me on a bike. It’s kinda scary. I like the motorcycles around here.

Do you think you’ll drive a motorcycle one day?

WILLIAMS: [nods]

Who’s your favorite person?

WILLIAMS: [shrugs]

You don’t know?

WILLIAMS: My sisters. They’re 3.

GRANDMA: She has twin sisters.


Photo Contributed by Lauren Husband

Photo Contributed by Lauren Husband Michael “M-Rod” and Christine Rodriguez

Michael “M-Rod” and Christine Rodriguez

The Rodriguezes drove in to the rally from Kansas City Friday afternoon and met up with some other bikers at a gas station on the way down. After they realized they were headed the same way, they got to talking and asked them if they wanted to group up and ride down together, so they did.

They’re also a newly wed couple, and got married about a month ago in Hot Springs, Ark.

Michael rides a Harley-Davidson Street Bike, and he’s been riding continuously for 12 years. He’s a part of a church-affiliated biker club called the Res Riders, and he was proud to say they do the biggest March of Dimes fundraiser each year called Bikers for Babies.

What do you love most about your spouse?

CHRISTINE: Good question. I’d say his personality. He’s very laid back and very caring.

MICHAEL: I was just going to go with ‘Everything, ever.’

Were you both been into motorcycles before you met?

CHRISTINE: I was. I was going to take a class. I’m a hair stylist, and he was one of my clients for a long time. We were really good friends. I knew he rode prior to that. Our first date was on a motorcycle.

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