Plan on SO-19 in 2018 – June 15-16, 2018
The Smoke out is the epicenter of the Chopper World. It has everything that you want: the ride-in-bike show, music, drag racing, camping, minibike racing, beer, older-dudes-with-beer-guts- and-beards, more beer, beautiful women… and much more. Tickets will be available on-line in time to purchase as Christmas presents (and at a discount to boot).
The Gathering — The theme of the 2018 Smoke Out is “The Gathering.” We need to bring back the best of the best things that have happened in the last 18 years. We will simplify a bit and focus on our “core” events. We want to bring back any of the chopper faithful that may have drifted away. I am slowly calling every vendor to get their input and ideas. Everyone wants to solicit millennials these days. However, I think millennials are smart enough to recognize what is real, genuine and original. Millennials are finding their way to the Smoke Out without an expensive social media campaign specifically for them but we do have a plan to step up our social media presence. Stay tuned for details on that.
I rely on people like Jeff Najar form Biker Pros. Keith Ball from Bikernet has been a mentor to me for 15 years. I am afraid to start naming names because the list is too long and too many great people will be missed.
I am also reaching out to a few “new” folks… key folks in the industry, that have always supported the Smoke Out for their help as consultants (unpaid but appreciated). My first contact was to Brewdude after he made a video about what he thinks is wrong with bike shows today. Each year I plan to ask two or three industry moguls for some additional insights.
Below is a list of what we are working on. None of this is final. We are throwing out ideas for discussion right now. This event represents our community and I am waiting for the chopper world to weigh in.
- The first suggestion is to reduce the number of Paint Shows, Amateur Chop Offs, Pro Chop Offs, Enfield Chop Offs, Amateur Build Offs, Pro Build Offs and the rest. In the beginning, we had one ride-in bike show with ten winners. If you attended the Smoke Out back then the focus of the Smoke Out was crystal clear. It’s the ride-in-bike show that is at the core of this event. We want to have lots of things to do and see at the Smoke Out but we also know we need to keep the focus on the ride-in bike show. It’s also harder to get good media coverage of everything if we have too many different types of bike shows.
- For 2018, we go back to focus on the ride-in-bike show and work hard to ensure that every winner gets great media coverage somewhere. However, this would be accompanied with a way for professional builders that support the Smoke Out to display their work (and have business cards available to the public) also.
- Move the ride-in bike show closer to the center stage.
- Put a burn out pit on the event side.
- See if we can find some car clubs to bring some hot rods. We have the room for hot rods in Rockingham.
- A monitored parking coral, closer to the main area, for Knuckles, Shovels, Pans, Ironheads, rigids and pre-1981 metric bikes. This was a suggestion by Truth from Choppahead. These bikes are at the Smoke Out and always have been… but they are getting lost in the sea of bikes that show up. This way if you go into the coral to take a picture of a cool Knucklehead… there won’t be a more modern 21” front wheel bagger behind it in the photo. This would make it easier to view and photograph some of the bikes at the core of the event.
- Brew wants timed runs on the dragstrip (Friday only). We have been doing fifties style drags only but the suggestion is to have some scheduled times on Friday to use the lights and timers.
- Tim Gelay from Mutha Country Choppers suggested mini bike drag racing. We can have a shorter length track and run mini bikes for a bit. It seems like a great idea.
- Return to just one stage.
- Have an after-hours event at one of the hotels. The craziness is in the campground after hours. We get that. The campgrounds are not to be missed. However, some of the non-campers keep asking about an after-hours destination. We might pick a place and order forty-two pizzas. We realize this will never be the Salisbury Holiday Inn of 2004 but most of the people that want this are not the same age as they were in 2004.
One of the painful parts of running an event is that 62.7% of the people that attend an event think they know what I need to do next year. I have heard from 322 people whose cousin is in a band and that band would be perfect for the Smoke Out. I have people seriously tell me I need to hire Aerosmith to play Saturday night… if we took every dime we collected for four years we could not afford to hire Aerosmith once. So, I hesitate to solicit suggestions even though I want the feedback but I am soliciting suggestions because this isn’t my event… it’s our event.
Believe it or not, by the time we pay for facilities, insurance, porta-jons, models, stages, bands, security, EMTs, advertising, social media, taxes, office supplies, planning staff, event staff and on and on… well… we barely have enough money left to fly our private jet to the island we bought in the Bahamas. (lol)
So, be realistic but I am soliciting suggestions from people in the community that are willing to be personally involved. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or post on the Smoke Out Rally FaceBook.