Our man on the ground Corey Levenson takes in the sights and sounds in Luckenbach, Texas.
For those who are passionate about vintage and classic motorcycles, this annual event has become the crown jewel of Texas rallies. The Harvest Classic takes place over two days every October in Luckenbach, deep in the heart of Texas. The town consists of a couple of old wooden buildings, has an official population of 3 and sits in the middle of the Hill Country, not far from Austin and San Antonio. Surrounded by some of the best roads in Texas, it's a perfect setting for a motorcycle rally.
Friday's main attraction was a Fun Run restricted to bikes of 100cc or less, and there were 150 of the little buggers. Event organizer Russell Duke described it as "15,000cc of pure fun!" Later in the day there was live music, and with about 800 people choosing to camp at the event, it made for a fun evening campfire scene.
Saturday was the big day, with a bike show featuring 200 vintage and classic motorcycles, a swap meet, multiple vendor booths, more live music, a raffle and live auction, the Globe of Death daredevil show, trials riding throughout the day and a BBQ dinner. The evening attraction was the U.S. premiere of the 1956 Italian film I Fidanzati Della Morte (Engaged to Death), a tangled love story set against the colorful background of period motorcycle racing. The recently restored flick features thinly disguised Moto Guzzi and Gilera GP bikes clad in dustbin fairings. Great stuff!
The 2017 rally drew about 2,500 attendees, but the organizers aren't interested in growing the event — they just want to make it better every year. Russell says the goal is for the Harvest Classic "to be a rally that embraces the unique and fun aspects of motorcycling during a weekend where vintage and European motorcycle fans can get together to raise money and show support for children and families that are battling childhood cancer." Proceeds from the rally benefit the Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Foundation. Since the first rally in 2003, contributions have totaled $690,000, including $90,000 this year.
The first Harvest Classic rally arose from love and loss — Russell's love of motorcycling and the loss of his young daughter to cancer. The volunteers who organize the event are passionate and it shows in the vibe that surrounds the rally. Russell says it well: "The energy of the event is something that people feel when they come to the rally. Maybe we feel the spirit of my daughter, Emma, soaring above us all; I don't know. It's hard to describe, but it feels like it's right, like it's the best thing we do." The sign on the entrance to the rally says it all: "Abandon all despair, ye who enter here." Go to harvestclassic.org for info on the 2018 rally. MC