RIVERVIEW – Get your motors running. The International Independent Showmen's Association is gearing up for its 11th annual Gibtown Bike Week to take place Thursday through Sunday.
The four-day event will take place at the association's headquarters, 6915 Riverview Drive in Riverview, and features 22 live bands, food and drinks, motorcycle and classic car shows, a charity poker run, plus vendors and attractions, including the Galaxy Girls, the Motorcycle Globe of Death and Definitive Wrestling International matches.
Last year's event attracted nearly 30,000 people, including motorcycle enthusiasts from around the country, said event chairman Ron Lane.
“It's billed as Bike Week, but you don't have to ride a motorcycle to attend,” said Lane. “It's a family-friendly event with something for everyone.”
The event was launched 11 years ago as an afternoon poker run for charity. It quickly expanded to become a two-day Bike Fest headed by Lane.
“From there, it just got bigger and bigger,” said Lane. “Now we call it Bike Week because we have four full days of events going on throughout the showmen's property.”
Starting at noon tomorrow, owners of cruisers, tour bikes and sport bikes from around the country begin pouring into the showmen's association property to stake out prime camping sites for the event, which offers free RV hookups and electricity.
By 1 p.m., the bands will be warmed up and playing while food vendors slap hot dogs, hamburgers and sausages on their grills for hungry riders.
“We'll have bands performing at the river bar and in the showmen's lounge, including the popular Bobby Friss Band on Friday night,” Lane said.
Other bands scheduled to perform include Drive on Thursday night; a Lynyrd Skynrd tribute band Saturday night; and a Guns N' Roses tribute band Sunday night.
A perennial favorite at Bike Week, the Sarasota-based Galaxy Girls, will return this year to entertain attendees with acrobatic feats performed on a 125-foot-tall sway pole.
Meanwhile, the Urias Family Daredevils, also hailing from Sarasota, will perform their daring stunts inside the 16-foot-diameter steel Globe of Death. “Because of our busy schedules, we don't always have the chance to come back every year but performing at Bike Week is always special because we consider this area to be part of our hometown,” said Erwin Urias, a fourth-generation daredevil. “My great-grandfather started this act and we've been blessed to continue the family tradition with me and my brother, Melvin.”
Other events include a motorcycle show on Saturday, classic car show on Sunday and charity poker run with $1,000 in prizes on Sunday organized by the Showmen's Shrine Club.
“Gibtown Bike Week is a very different motorcycle event because it's put on by real showmen who really know how to entertain,” said Ron Galletti, owner of Born to Ride Entertainment, Bike Week's media sponsor for the past five years. “And the showmen's association is a great place to have this kind of event. It's on the river with plenty of bars and great food. It attracts people from all over and really impacts the community.”
Galletti added that Born to Ride will be taping its television show from Bike Week and featuring it in the Born to Ride magazine.
“We're always excited to work with Ron Lane and his staff every year,” he said. “It's such a well-done event.”
There's no cost to attend. Events will run from 1 p.m. to 3 a.m. Thursday and Friday and from 10 a.m. to 3 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. However, those who sign up for the Bike Fest VIP Program for $150 will receive free beer all four days, free food on Saturday and Sunday, VIP motorcycle parking, a VIP camp site, an invitation to the After Bike Week Party and access to the VIP tent.
D'Ann Lawrence White is a freelance writer who can be reached at [email protected]