Most of us already have heard that the AMCA Sunshine Chapter walked away from the Lake County Fairgrounds, Eustis, Florida, site for 2012 after holding an Antique Motorcycle Club ("AMCA") national winter meet there for fifteen or sixteen years.
The move was suddenly announced as a "done deal" at the 2011 Wauseon AMCA meet, where little, printed cards were handed out. This was some stunning news to many of the folks who make up the Antique Motorcycle Club's Summer meet circuit, particularly, the vendors
Many of the vendors who first heard about the Sunshine Chapter's sudden change of venue had attended the AMCA meets at the Eustis fairgrounds site for many years. They knew the layout, had favorite spaces that they had rented faithfully, year-after-year, and even had "favorite" neighbors on each side that they were glad to catch up with at the annual March meet. They also made sure to finalize their attendance the following year by making reservations with the Sunshine Chapter before pulling up stakes at the end of the meet and heading to wherever they had made plans for the remainder of Daytona Bike Week. With the change of location, obviously those reservations went out-the-window, and it was "square one" time!
The new site for what was initially reported as a "regional" (read:local chapter) swap meet, instead of an AMCA national, then suddenly became a National Meet again in a little sleight-of-hand, mumbo-jumbo, is a horse show ring
that abuts The Cabbage Patch
, a well-known biker bar that sponsors their own annual money-maker, a campground/drunken circus and "midway" that boils like an unwatched pot on an over-stoked campfire for the entire Bike Week festivities. Some have noted that between the Cabbage Patch
and the horse show grounds, they don't think there's even a metal fence, just a wooden split rail fence that you could climb through carrying a beer in each hand, if you wanted, making any swapmeet security next door to the Cabbage Patch somewhat of a nightmare.
That's just for starters, but the surprise news hit many of the biggest participants in the Eustis Swap Meet like a 2x4 upside the head, and it didn't take them long to decide what they're going to do about it. I'm talking about some of the biggest and best known names in the antique motorcycle "industry," the fellows who make and sell "most" of the parts that we use to finish, and to keep our decades-old prides-and-joys running, British and American.
Six of these fellows were standing together, just kibitzing at Wauseon, when someone handed them all the little cards announcing the cancellation of the Eustis meet as we've all known it and its re-constitution 45 miles away at the Cabbage Patch three-ring circus site.
The discussion that ensued soon resulted in the formation of the Vintage Motorcycle Alliance LLC
(a "Limited Liability Corporation"), which, technically, is a new antique motorcycle trade group (something we've never had before), and which proceeded from that seed to become the entity which rented the Eustis Fairgrounds site after Sunshine Chapter declined to, and then negotiated with the City of Eustis for public camping in the parking lot at the fairgrounds site,something which was never allowed when the Sunshine Chapter met there, and made plans to hold a Manufacturers' Trade Show
in conjunction with the swap meet; what's being called "an old-fashioned, back-of-your-pickup truck-open the trunk of you car," antique motorcycle swap meet!
The Manufacturers' Trade Show will draw the cream of the people who make their bread & butter, and make our mouths water, providing reproduction and reconditioned parts for our old motorcycles, from all over North Amerioca, and elsewhere. There will be demonstrations, of a kind like the New Jersey concern that will demonstrate and display all the different metal finishes they offer: different grades of cadmium plating, chrome and the colors they can provide in Parkerizing. Also wheel makers, tire manufacturers and makers of small, essential parts available nowhere else on the planet.
Many well-known names have signed up; one is Tom Faber, manufacturer of some pieces that restorers of vintage Harleys almost can not do without. Another is Tom Feeser, owner of Replicant Metals
. Tom makes an awful lot of sheet metal for bikes, Harley and Indian and many others, that date all-way-back: fuel tanks, fenders and toolboxes among them. He is scheduled to be set up in his location familiar to Eustis attendees, right side, just inside the main entrance. Another one signed on is Dale & Matt Walkser's Wheel Through Time Museum
; they'll bringing a few of their tasty restorations down from Maggie Valley, North Carolina.
Another well-known restorer and dealer in small parts, Bruce Palmer III, will be there. His attendance was almost mandatory. The horse show ring is a muddy (when wet), dirt floor edifice, making the site non-ADA compliant, and nearly-unnavigable in the kind of power chair Bruce uses.
Here is a list of some of the vendors already signed up:
That is the address of the Vintage Motorcycle Alliance website.
These fellows are serious about this. The swap promises to be a low-stress, old-fashioned trading session, Friday and Saturday, and simultaneously with the Manufacturer's Trade Show will be something completely new to antique motorcycling. Old motorcycles are invited for an old-fashioned "display." No stress, no B.S.
There is really no direct competition with the Sunshine Chapter's formal judging, as the Vintage Motorcycle Alliance meet at Eustis will be Friday and Saturday, March 9th and 10th, and the AMCA judging is scheduled for Sunday, March 11th, by which time the VMA sponsors will have hatted up for Daytona to fulfill their plans for the remainder of Bike Week.