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Festival brings in bikers

For many, gone are the days of leather, loitering and Hell’s Angels.
There’s a new face of motorcycling, and it’s a kinder, gentler one.
“I’m more proud of the image I’m trying to portray than anything else I do,” said Wade Roberts, owner of Trick 1 Customs.
Trick 1 Customs is just one of many companies and organizations sponsoring this weekend’s Hog Happenin.’
Such community outreach, now a major goal of many biking groups, signals the end of what many may consider an unsavory past.
“Without sounding cliched, we have the yuppies now. We have lawyers, doctors and sheriffs riding motorcycles,” said Concerned Bikers Association Western District Coordinator James Buckner. “They all want to come into the biking community.”
The Concerned Bikers Association, a Hog Happenin’ sponsor, takes part in a variety of community service activities in addition to lobbying the government on behalf of bikers statewide.
“One of the bylines of our constitution is to improve the image of motorcycling,” said Buckner.
He feels they do just that, sponsoring events at Veterans Affairs hospitals, displaying their bikes and educating others on motorcycle safety.
“We want to put a smile on people’s faces,” Buckner said.
Concerned Bikers Association’s most significant volunteer effort involves their “Motorcycle Safety and Awareness Program.” Volunteers instruct high school driver’s education classes on appropriate behaviors around motorcyclists on the road.
“People look at us and say, ‘They ain’t a bad bunch of guys,’” Buckner said.
Another Hog Happenin’ sponsor has a distinctly religious bent.
The Christian Motorcycle Association, a national motorcycling ministry now in its 31st year, promotes evangelistic outreach and community service.
“Anything that gets the community involved in a family event is helpful to promote the positive aspects of motorcycling,” said Christian Motorcycle Association Events Coordinator Missy Parmenter.
It’s hard for her to deny, however, that the negative stereotypes that some still association with biking.
“These negative connotations go way back,” said Parmenter. “We have members who may appear rough around the edges, but it’s what’s in their hearts.”
by Katie Rozycki

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