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Bearded Lady Show

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Bearded Lady Motorcycle Freak Show July 2011

A Minneapolis motorcycle (and scooter and moped) institution for the past six years, the Bearded Lady Motorcycle Freak Show is one of those things that make the Twin Cities rider scene such a blast to be part of. This year, Saturday July 23rd was the big day. I went with Jonathan Wheelock from Scooterville/Mill City Motorcycles to help out in their display. Saturday morning started out rainy, but by the time we were setting up the skies were clearing. The rest of the day day was sunny and hot. Perfect motorcycle/scooter/moped weather.

Scooterville Mill City Motorcycles at Bearded Lady 2011

OK, it's noon, we're all set up, time to have a look at what other sponsors/vendors are doing. Ryan from Blue Cat Motors had stopped by and helped us raise our pop-up tents so I trotted down the (closed to traffic) street to see what he had done.

BlueCat Motors at Bearded Lady 2011

Think Charles Schultz's Peanuts and Lucy's "Psychiatric Help 5 Cents". Ryan and Jeff brought some old shop manuals and were there to offer up help and answers to one's motorcycle questions. They also had some cool bikes from their shop. The demographics of Bearded Lady (both in attendees and bikes being shown) is the most varied of any two-wheeled event I've ever been to, but the "Peanuts" reference is indicative of a large body of the participants. You know, of a certain age, a touch of "biker-nerd" in their blood, that kind of thing. Let's take a quick look at the history of Bearded Lady.

CT Chris Thomas Bearded Lady FounderCT (Chris Thomas) along with Lindsay Brown. Amie Walz & Jimmy Sugg started the Bearded Lady event in 2006. Rumor has it that CT had built and entered a Japanese bike in show (two bikes in fact).... and didn't win anything. Disillusioned with the current crop of "shows", and always looking for a reason to throw a party, the Bearded Lady Motorcycle Freak show was born. I think it's safe to say that everyone was shocked when 800 people showed up the first year. Bearded Lady has grown to several thousand attendees and is one of the biggest motorcycle show/block party/carnival in the area. In addition to CT, Bearded Lady 2011 included the efforts of Stacy Sandvick, Vern Johnson, Justin Slingsby & Matt Sandvick. It goes without saying that there are more volunteers and other contributors than could reasonably be listed here. 

So far as the "show" goes, the categories are: Street Fighter, Bomb Can, Cafe Racer, Side Car, 2-Stroke, Rat Bike, Scooter, Bobber, American, European, Japanese, Best-in-Show. One pays $10 to register and one's bike is judged in the aforementioned classifications. This year (and last year) one could win a tattooed dead pig in a jar. What? I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried. This year the contributing trophy artists included: Evolution Tattoo, FreakkiBearded Lady Pig Trophies Tiki, Live Fast Die Young, Northeast Tattoo, Reime Jahr, Sarah Biloon, Sarah Knoss, Shane Ray & Uptown Tattoo.

At Bearded Lady one will find a costumed guy on stilts, cigarette girls, food and beverage vendors, and bands at the 331 Club. In previous years there have been rickshaw rides, a freakshow tent with freaks, and other diversions too numerous to name. This year the bands included: The Brass Kings, Rumble Seat Riot, Crankshaft, The 99ers, Red Desert, Mustache Jim, Black Church Service, L'Assasins, Violent Shifters & Le Cirque Rouge.

Bearded Lady Motorcycle Freak Show Bands playing in 331 Club lot

Yes, there are "bearded ladies" in attendance as well. These mostly take the form of guys with beards in drag. Sometimes one sees attractive young ladies with false facial hair. On rare occasions one isn't quite sure what one is seeing.

Bearded Ladies

Oh yes, of course, there are bikes. Lots and lots of bikes. Everything. Mopeds, scooters, and just about every type of motorcycle imaginable. The street is blocked off until about 6:00PM. Bikes have been judged and trophies handed out. More bands continue playing and the carnival/party goes on into the night. The rain stayed away for a while and a good time is had by all.

Bearded Lady BMWs

Bearded Lady British Bikes

Bearded Lady Hondas

Bearded Lady V Twins

Bearded Lady Motorcycles Mopeds and Scooters

The Bearded Lady Motorcycle Freak Show continues to grow and evolve. There were more V-Twin motorcycles this year than I remember from any previous year, but the show remains about ANY powered two-wheeled conveyance. It's about bikes that are built over the winter in chilly garages with lots of spilled beer and stale pizza. It's about riding what you build and it's about having a good time.

I can't wait for next year's show.

David Harrington


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