by David Croyle
Spectators and motorcycle/antique car enthusiasts swarmed Kittanning Riverfront Park for what is being considered the best year yet for the annual event.
Now in its 13th year, Kittanning Hose Company #1 has apparently found the right mix of vendors, weather, music, and attractions that will net the department as much as $15,000 – much of it to be used for new protective clothing and gear for fighting fires.
Fire Chief Gene Stephens was elated at the results.
“This year was great. One of our best years attendance wise. We usually shut down from the bridge to Dunkin Donuts. This year, we are shut down from the bridge to down by Sheetz because of the bikes and cars that are attending this year.”
Stephens said approximately 2,500 motorcycles participated throughout the three-day event which concluded last night. Another 150 antique cars lined the street as well. Over 30 vendors also participated in the event.
In addition to the vehicles, the music was also flowing throughout Riverfront Park – with bands playing in the amphitheater and solo acts positioned throughout the park among the vendors.
Entertainment chairman Kevin Kline said the change in the music pattern delighted the crowd.
“We put an acoustic act up on top to get closer to have more interaction with the crowd. If there is not a packed amphitheater, people won’t come close. Up there, they have the opportunity to get up close and personal with the entertainer, and more interaction. We will still have the bands down here (in the amphitheater) but in the future, we will be throwing some acoustic acts through the park for years to come. It is something we tried this year and it worked out very well. Every year, a new idea comes forth.”
Stephens said the response of the crowd has been positive.
“They congratulated us on the excellent job that we do. Nice good, clean class A show that we put on. We are getting new vendors in. They love the music and stuff. The whole atmosphere is great. There are families from little kids to adults. Everybody enjoys the show. We have kid games here, playhouse, and all kind of stuff. It’s a good show for everybody.”
Shelley Duff of Pittsburgh was one of the musical solo performers in the park. She plays in several different bands in western Pennsylvania. She was impressed with the weekend event.
“I love it! This is my first time here. It’s a really awesome event. I didn’t know what to expect. The crowd has been amazing. The people are really enthusiastic. Great feedback! Beautiful day! Beautiful location. I couldn’t have asked for a better day. I’m really happy and hopefully they will have me back.”
Weather was certainly a factor at outstanding attendance. A brief 10-minute period of rain slowed things down slightly on Saturday – but otherwise, a refreshing breeze and bright sunshine was forecast for the event.
Stephens said owners do not bring their motorcycles and stay throughout the entire event, but rather come and go.
“The bikes come in. They stop. They walk the park, get something to eat, buy some merchandise. Then they jump on their bikes and go for a ride because when you buy a bike, you like to ride it. They will go for a couple hour ride, turn around, and come back and do the same thing, and do it again. When it comes evening, they stay for the entertainment and then go home.”
The bottom line for Kittanning Hose Company #1 is making money to fund the department. When asked how much money he wanted to raise, Stephens said with a gleam in his eye:
“We would like to make a million dollars for our new truck!”
Then he gave the real numbers.
“We hopefully will make between 10 to 15 (thousand), which is the average range. To put this show on, we get so much help from all the businesses and the local people in this community to sponsor us, to donate to us to put this show on. If it wasn’t for them people in our community and the surrounding communities, we couldn’t do it because the overhead of the entertainment (with) what we make on the food booths and the beer sales, wouldn’t cover it all!”
Jennifer Cosgrove of Ford City spent several hours yesterday at the event. She doesn’t own a classic car or a motorcycle, but enjoys looking at them.
“We just came to look. We like the cars too. They have a nice group of people here. Nice bikes, nice cars. You can’t ask for much more!”
Scotty Bowser from West Kittanning brought his 2012 Ford Mustang – the Shelby GT500 series – to the show. Scotty has been collecting cars since high school.
“It’s the only one I have right now. It’s the sixth Mustang that I have had since 1989,” he said.
Joe Klink from McGrann has five classic cars in his collection. He said that you start collecting, and then you can’t get away from it.
“You are never satisfied. You never are!”
Klink described his vehicle.
“It came from Chambersburg, PA – where the peaches are! It’s a ‘34 Ford Coupe. It’s a hybrid car. It is part steel and part fiberglass. The guy was a well-known builder in that area. This was a collaborative effort of all of his years of experience. He gave up hot-rodding, so he sold it.”
Larry and Natalie Reefer of Templeton have a 1978 Classic Corvette Silver Anniversary and a Harley motorcycle, but decided yesterday to just come and observe.
“I’d like to see it grow. It would be nice if it would become something like the Johnstown event. But it’s surviving, it’s existing year after year. There is something to come here and do and look at. So it’s nice!”
Natalie was quick to point out that their visit to the show was not a buying expedition, but just casual observing. However, Larry said she has been gracious to him over the years when it came to buying his “big boy toys”.
“My wife has let me spend more money on the things I like than any wife probably ever would.”
The Reefers were quick to point out their favorite vehicle on display – a 1944 80-cubic-inch flat head Harley motorcycle owned by Dan Saeler from Butler.
“I’m going to go all the way down through here with everything today, and this is going to be the most unique piece that I look at! If you restored it, you would ruin the appearance of it. The way it is now it is like a work of art,” Larry Reefer said.
While Saeler brought the motorcycle to the show in a trailer, he did demonstrate it by driving it around the street to the enjoyment of the observers.
While Kline would not give out any secrets about next year’s show, he did make one prediction:
“We are going to block off more space… more cars… more bikes… more vendors… it’s going to be bigger.”