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Biker Bash takes over Boulevard

LAWRENCE PIERCE | Sunday Gazette-Mail
The third annual Capitol City Biker Bash brought together motorcycles, live music and games June 12 to 14. Mark and Laura Casto of Sissonville compete in the event’s biker games. In this game, bikers cruised under a hot dog while a passenger attempted to grab it.
Azim Smith of the local Buffalo Soldiers motorcycle club said the annual biker bash gives local riders a chance to welcome folks into West Virginia and share the beautiful riding routes outside of Charleston.
LAWRENCE PIERCE | Sunday Gazette-Mail
Motorcycles lined Kanawha Boulevard for the third annual Capitol City Biker Bash. Larry Hayes, president of the event, said it continues to grow each year.
Mark Casto of Sissionville and Tim Adkins of Elkview, ride in the slow ride competition during the third annual Capitol City Biker Bash bike games. Riders attempted to creep as slowly as possible without going out of bounds or placing a foot on the ground.
Eddie Gillespie of South Charleston won the Capitol City Biker Bash’s best of show with his 1996 Harley Davidson soft tail motorcycle. Gillespie and his son had been working on the bike since 2003.

Motorcycles lined Kanawha Boulevard Saturday as people gathered at Haddad Riverfront Park for the third annual Capitol City Biker Bash. The event ran Thursday to Saturday, featuring live music, motorcycle games, food vendors, a motorcycle giveaway and more. For the second year, the bash helped raise money for HospiceCare.

The event has grown each year, said Larry Hayes, president of the Capitol City Biker Bash. There were about 10 extra vendors this year and motorcycle parking was extended.

“There are a lot of people that like to ride,” Hayes said. “This is a great venue to ride to and if you go outside of the city it’s good riding, curving roads for motorcycles.”

Hayes said riders came from as far as Oklahoma but many out-of-state riders were from neighboring Pennsylvania and Ohio.

The rock band Saliva kicked off the event Thursday. Hayes said Friday night’s weather didn’t deter attendees from hearing the band Midnight Special jam.

“They stuck it out,” Hayes said. “They were out here watching the band, dancing in the rain.”

Azim Smith of the local biker club, Buffalo Soldiers, said the event is a good time and great fellowship among riders.

Smith said the club, which formed last July, has about 27 members. They ride to bring awareness to the sacrifices, hardships and racism African American soldiers endured during the American Civil War.

“The bash gives us a chance to welcome people to West Virginia and show what motorcycle clubs can do for the community,” Smith said.

Last week the club helped clean the veterans cemetery in Institute.

“What it has also offered us, because we are kind of the new kids on the block, is the opportunity for us to come out and introduce ourselves to the community,” said club president, Rodney Booker.

Joe Delph of Berkeley Springs participated in the event’s biker games.

“It’s all about participating and having fun,” Delph said.

There are several games, including the slow ride and jousting.

Riders jousting each have a pool stick that they use to capture rings from atop cones as they ride by.

Eddie Gillespie of South Charleston took home the event’s largest trophy and a $100 cash prize for his 1996 soft tail Harley Davidson motorcycle. He won the best of show.

“I have a lot of motorcycles,” Gillespie said. “I thought I’d put one in the show this year.”

Gillespie, along with his son, has been working on the soft tail since 2003, adding “different stuff” to the bike.

His favorite addition is the bike’s super charger, which provides the bike with “lots of power.”

Gillespie tries to do all the work on his 15 bikes himself.

“It’s just a fun hobby,” he said. “It keeps me out of trouble.”

Hayes said the event used social media and worked with the Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“We just wanted to bring people into the city,” Hayes said. “Year-to-year we hope to keep it growing.”

Reach Caitlin Cook at or 304-348-5113.

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