June Jam bike rally brings motorcycle enthusiasts together in second year of resurgence – Salisbury Post
SALISBURY – For Rick Nail, Saturday was like a big family reunion.
âI call it a bike show, a social gathering and a family reunion because you see people that you might only see once or twice a year,â Nail said.
The 71-year-old rider was among hundreds of motorcycle enthusiasts – many with tattoos, beards or both – who flooded Rowan County Fairgrounds on Saturday for the June Jam cycle rally. The all-day affair featured vendors of all kinds, lively competitions, and many tricked bikes.
June Jam continues today, with doors opening at 10 a.m. and closing at 4 p.m.
Attending this year’s June Jam was special for Nail as he was the one who started the event in 1990.
Inspired by photos of his parents riding motorcycles, the Rowan County native started riding as a young adult and has continued ever since. Nail has been president of the Concerned Bikers Association for 21 years and still helps the organization organize spring and fall events at the fairgrounds every year.
In order to cover the costs of organizing the first June Jam, Nail asked her father for a small loan. Nail’s dad agreed and was happy when the event was a success and he recouped more than his investment. Over the next 17 years, June Jam became a must-see summer event at the fairgrounds for bikers from near and far.
âThe first two years of the first June Jam were really slow, but then we really had a good number of people coming in,â said Nail.
June Jam took a one-year hiatus in 2008, but the hiatus eventually lasted 12 years. It probably would have lasted longer. Then Garrett Barger approached Nail with the idea of âârelaunching the event last year.
Barger, who hosts the Carolina Bohemian Jam at the fairgrounds each fall, is no stranger to hosting large gatherings. However, he is not a motorcyclist himself. So getting Nail’s blessing and support was paramount.
âI’m all about the events,â Barger said. âIt doesn’t matter to me what type of event or what crowd it is. If I see a need, I will bring it in. But I am smart enough to know that I am working in partnership with experts in this field. When I saw the need to bring back a bike event I went to (Nail) and said “Let’s do it together”.
The plan was to host the event when it was typically held – in June. But COVID-19 forced Barger to postpone it until August. Although many bikers attended the first June Jam in over a decade, Barger said it didn’t even compare to the crowds that flocked to the fairground on Saturday.
In addition to biking enthusiasts, the fairground was filled with vendors selling hot dogs, burgers, cigars, shot glasses, hats, gutters, and even lawn ornaments.
The event was billed as a swap meet, meaning there was no shortage of merchants selling matching motorcycle parts or offering bike upgrades on the spot. Andrew Whitington, who came from Statesville, decided to have his 2020 Harley-Davidson Street Glide Special fitted with LED lights by James Wilt, the owner of Big Dog’s custom LED lighting. Wilt goes to motorcycle rallies across the country, helping bikers light their routes.
Whitington, who has raced intermittently for several years, said June Jam was the first cycle rally he participated in. It will probably not be his last.
âIt’s fun,â Whitington said. “I love being around all of these bikes, watching the parts people sell and meeting new people.”
Large crowds gathered under a white tent to watch several competitions, including a contest to see who had the best beard and the best tattoo. A bikini and wet t-shirt contest was also part of the 21+ festivities. Today’s event is open to all ages, said Barger, and will only offer family entertainment.
There was also a live musical performance by the band Fair Warning and, of course, a bike show to determine which choppers were the cream of the crop.
Ted Rary was one of three judges responsible for choosing the contest winners. Rary, who said he had been riding motorcycles for almost six decades, rated the motorcycles in nine different categories, including paint, originality and construction. His strategy for choosing the best bikes was simple.
âI judge them as I see them,â said Rary, who admitted he had a special affection for older models.
Rary rated Saturday’s contestants, who featured everything from barely broken Harleys to vintage Shovelheads, as both good variety and good quality.
While June Jam is inherently about motorcycles, Nail said the event is more about the people who ride them.
âIf it hadn’t been for motorcycles, I wouldn’t have met a lot of great people,â said Nail.
Barger said he plans to continue expanding June Jam for years to come and hopes to once again ride motorcycle rally and show a must-see event.
âIt takes about five years to really build an event,â said Barger. âWe’re going to grow it where it needs to be. “
Admission to today’s June Jam festivities is $ 5. More information can be found online at www.junejambikerally.com.