Rhinebeck National Antique Motorcycle Show & Swap Meet
By Tim Talleur
Last year, the Rhinebeck National Bike Show and Swap Meet was held at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds for three days from June 8 to June 10 in Rhinebeck, New York. To be held this year from June 13 through June 15, the 2008 event promises to be even better than last yearís.
Huge and worth the trip all by itself, the Fairgrounds has parking for thousands of cars and motorcycles. The grass is kept like a golf course, with easy to walk blacktop roads and big old shade trees to keep you cool. There are full RV hookups, plenty of nice clean bathrooms and showers. It is one of the most beautiful fairgrounds in the United States.
The National Bike Show and Swap Meet is an Antique Motorcycle Club of America Northeastern Coalition meet organized by six Northeast Chapters: the Hudson Valley Chapter, Big Sandbar, Seaboard, Colonial, Empire and Yankee. Also sharing the event was the Century Museum Village and Collectors Association, which consists of displays of how our country lived a hundred years ago. They also maintain a wonderful museum on the Fairgrounds. The Mid Hudson Antique Truck Club of America also shared the event with great trucks of all sizes from many eras.
The event turned out to be one of the largest held for Antique and Vintage motorcycles in the country that year. The parts vendors were lined up on the highway for a day before the gates were opened in anticipation of what turned out to be a huge bike show with hundreds of vendors. This meet drew in crowds of thousands of collectors, enthusiasts, as well as the locals who came out just to see the show. It was well organized from the start, with plenty of staff to help with parking and information. Programs were handed out so you had some idea what was going to happen next. Good and beer vendors were on hand to keep you fueled up.
And what a show it was! One of the main features was a motorcycle timeline that started with several bikes of each year from 1972 down to the oldest that they could lay their hands on which was from 1896! The lineup had many different manufacturers and models from all over the world. All the spectators were amazed by the many different makes that they had never heard of in the timeline. There were many one-of-a-kind bikes and rare models, and the show was also a nice mix of original paint bikes to concourse type restorations.
Some of the other features were the British Iron Clubs showing off great bikes like Triumph, BSA and Norton. Also the BMW Airhead Club made a nice showing with early German Iron. Then there was the Morgan Three Wheelers with an awesome lineup! Last but definitely not least was a long lineup of antique and vintage racers, all running. This lineup included Hill climbers, Flat trackers, Road Racers, and a running Super Rare 1915 Harley 8 Valve Racer that was fired up several times a day for all to hear.
Even old racers who rode these bikes were on hand to share stories and pictures from their past. A lot of old timers who spent their careers working on the old iron were glad to share their secrets and expertise on how to make these machines right.
The Swap meet took a couple of days just to take it all in; there were so many NOS and good used parts everywhere, collectables, plenty of restoration projects to tempt anyone to get into this hobby. People were talking about finding that elusive part that they were looking for years!
All wee end I heard many times how someone was going to tell his buddy about the great stuff they missed and better be here next year, the word really got out on this as I met several people from the Netherlands, Germany, Canada, and even Australia. I am sure there was more that I did not meet.
If you got tired of the motorcycles, an antique machinery show was also included at the meet, with hit and miss engines up and running, giving demonstrations of old water pumps, power plants, lumber mills and more. Antique steel wheeled farm tractors, antique trucks and even horseless carriages that were made before the year 1900 were on display and running too.
One of the great things was the attitude of the vendors and all the people displaying bikes and equipment. If you wanted a ride in that old Harley with the sidecar from 1917, they were glad to take you out in it. If you asked they would fire up the old machines to hear it run. The old bikes were riding around all weekend. Every now and again the tractors and trucks would parade through the fairgrounds. To see this old iron is great, but listening and watching them drive by is unbelievable. Even the New York State Police and the Dutchess County Sheriff Department showed up with Police Bikes!
Another treat was that the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, which is just a few miles down the road, offered biplane rides in a 1929 Standard airplane. If you are not familiar with the Aerodrome, it is the only outfit in the world that puts on World War I Dogfights with real planes that were the type used in the war. The shows are all done in period costumes and settings to make it seem like you in a time warp! For more information, check out www.oldrhinebeck.org. The Aerodrome will be a part of the meet in 2008 with a Great WW1 Air show and Biplane Rides.
If you missed last yearís event, donít miss the debut of the Rhinebeck Grand National Super Meet from June 13 through June 15, 2008. The staff says there will be lots of surprises for this show with more vendors and displays than in 2007, along with some new features such as the Globe of Death and a Freestyle Jump Show. Jean Davidson, the granddaughter of Walter Davidson, one of Harley Davidsonís founders, will be signing her new book, and on Sunday there will be a Antique/Classic Motorcycle and Memorabilia Auction, your chance to find that Antique Motorcycle or Collectable you always wanted! This will be 2008ís Largest Antique Motorcycle Show in the United States. Check in at www.rhinebecknationalmeet.com for the latest information, or call 518 828 2768.
While you are visiting the Rhinebeck National Meet Web site, you can order the 2007 meet DVD. It is packed with 2 1/2 hours of great footage of all types of Antique Motorcycles, Antique Trucks, Antique Machinery and even a ride in a Antique Biplane. The DVD will give you some idea of what the 2008 show will bring. More information and pictures are being loaded on this site daily so check back often. Hope to see you there in 2008! You donít want to miss it!