Americana Show - Newark Showground, Notts (UK)
4th to 7th July 2002
(Report by Nick Lappage)
Part 1 (Friday and Saturday)
This year saw the 22nd anniversary of the, now ever so popular, themed event in Newark, Nottinghamshire. An even greater part of the event was that, for the first time, it would coincide with 4th July, which is American Independence Day. From my little rudimentary knowledge of history, this is when the American colonies kicked our butts 226 years ago and claimed an independent United States from George V. History lesson over.
As it turned out the great celebrations and fireworks, that were planned for Thursday night, turned into a washout with torrential rains and howling winds flooding the main outdoor stage and causing many bands to cancel. The fireworks obviously didn't happen. So I'm glad that the ghost of George V saw fit to remind them who really still controls who (hee, hee). I'm glad that we decided to travel to the event on Friday evening. It still rained on the way there, but we were dry by the time we arrived at the showground. If you ever go, watch out for the massive potholes at the entrance to the showground - forget cruiser bikes, you need motocross'ers! So we exchanged our tickets for wristbands and went in search of a plot of land to place our tent and rest before the normal routine of Friday night BEER.
It would seem that the best place to camp is by all the Harley Davidson owners. Most are easily spotted as they walk around with huge HOG Chapter back patches on their leathers. Others are way more cool. We were just looking to see where the best place was, when out jumped Paul Burdass from his trade tent. "Park over there" he said, " and get yourselves a cuppa when you've got the tent up". Of course we obliged...
Now, you may remember last year's saga of being awarded the "Best Dressed Harley" trophy. Well, it continues - but not for much longer. As I parked up Midnight Thunder, Harley riders from around the field came along to gaze and wonder at such a marvelous sight. "Where did you get the push rod tube covers?" asked one, and "What model did you base it on? A Fat Boy?" I'm sorry, but Angie and I both had to keep quiet and, while not lying, let them keep their ideas until the time when the prize giving was announced. It's still a wheeze when a whole HOG family - and a bunch of Canadians look really closely at a bike, inspecting it thoroughly and still pronounce a Yamaha as a great looking Harley.
It gets better, 'cos I told last years judges about my bike being a Yamaha and all. This years programme showed a list of winners and pictures but Midnight Thunder wasn't shown. Paul spotted this - instead on the opposite page is a half page article on HD's with the bar and shield logo at the top. On the left of the logo is Percy Badbrush's Swedish Harley Chopper and on the right is my bike in last year's colours. Ain't life fun! Click on the thumbnail to the right to see a bigger picture.
Onward to the evening's entertainment. In the Harley Bar, where all the rock music is played, we found a group called the "Platforms". These are a Midlands based band that is a mixture of two others, namely "Vigorous", a Rock Cover band who also write their own songs and "Platform 4", a Glam Rock band. Apparently they were only asked to play the night before as the original band had to cancel due to illness. In the event, they did extremely well, with the organisers wanting more. John Commons, the DJ from the Victoria Hotel in Coalville supplied all the warm up music you could want from the early Seventies to the late Eighties. All the beer was £2 a pint - good value and plenty of staff were available to get you served quickly. Now that makes a refreshing change.
We met a great load of people and saw many different characters through the night. Jane and Mick were a great laugh, and Angie had a great time dancing the night away. Birmingham based "Quill" were playing elsewhere, and by the time the Harley bar had shut we were that far gone that only chips and a hot dog would help. Never mind they'd be on tomorrow.
As we got back to the tent, our Geordie neighbours were in fine fettle, singing rather well I'm told, but I just haven't a clue - can't remember a thing! I do remember waking up to the sound of rain pelting down onto the tent at about 7 o'clock. "Just what we need", I thought and looked out to see how bad it was. Oh! Only drizzle. I'd forgotten how loud rain sounds in tents. Event that soon stopped and a dry but overcast day began. Having put copious amounts of tea and coffee down our necks, it was time to polish the bike from last night's rain and put into the bike show
There were some great looking bikes already there, all getting equally admiring inspections from nearly everyone. Ah ha, someone's guessed! "It's not a Harley - what is it?" said a young lad riding a 125cc Dragstar, who wants to get a Harley when he's older. I said to have a good look round, as there is a clue and come back later. Yes he smiled later and proclaimed it was from the Yamaha Star range and that he may well change his mind about that other bike he wanted. A couple of other young'uns also found out too, it's just those older cleverer people who get it wrong.
Having had a bit of a chat, we went off looking at the rest of the show. There was so much to see, from big rig trucks to classic 50's Chevies and Cadillac's. 1920's Packards up to the more modern Pontiac's. Each year you see the same cars being restored a little bit more and sometimes there is a new one that just stands out from the crowd. A great yellow Hot Rod showed up and as far as I'm concerned, was the best there.
There was also a living history section, showing how early pioneers would have lived and fought. You could go inside their houses or walk around the battlefield encampments and get a flavour of what it must have been like. Do take a look if you ever get the chance. Absolutely superb!
There weren't so many trade stands this year, which was a surprise, but I have got a leaning towards buying a telescopic flagpole for next years rallies. We'll have to wait and see...
As always, the main stage had loads of Country and Western Bands playing, including Paul Overstreet, who has had a couple of big hits over here. Meanwhile the smaller stage had the rockier type bands on, which is where we all went. Loony Chris, from "Badaxe" (a very rude band) compered the entertainment. It was all going well until he decided to throw out loads of little stick-on promo toys out into the audience. Where did all those kids come from? It was all good fun and kept us on our toes trying to avoid runaway children from trampling over us to get to the freebies. Here's a good idea. Just in front of the stage was placed a "special mat". The rules are simple - the child to stay on the mat the longest gets a prize. It's no big deal, but it does mean the parents can go away and do whatever they want (!) for a while. I suppose it's like an open crèche just for some fun.
All too soon, and it was Saturday Night. Cars and bikes were cruising round the showground showing off their flashing lights and strobes, which was all very pretty and very sedate too. "Quill" was to appear in the Lady Elizabeth Pavilion, which is a huge building with a large stage at one end and the bar at the other. This meant that if you were thirsty at the front then you had a long and difficult walk ahead. It all led to meeting lots of new people anyway.
"Badaxe" performed their clean act first and left the stage to rapturous applause, leaving the way clear for Quill. We were at the back of the building (near the bar obviously) and to be honest the bands set just didn't float our boat that night. It was all a little too slow for what we know to be a happy, jolly kind of band. Oh forget it, we thought, and went outside to see what we could find. The Harley bar had a duet with backing tapes, which was sort of ok but not what we were looking for, and the main stage was still doing those Country and Western numbers. The Cedric Ford Pavilion had a band with Line Dancing, which really isn't my cup of tea. Mind you, have you ever tried it? It's not as easy as you'd think - kind of like aerobics without the sweat. So, having run out of ideas and feeling more than a little tired from walking most of the day, we decided to call it a night. I don't know - it's the middle of our British Summer and the night was really cold. (Mental note: thicker sleeping bags next year).
See how Sunday went by clicking here
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