Freedom Fest

Text: Christian Neuhauser • Photography: Christian Neuhauser

The business of attracting people to the slopes of Snowshoe doesn't end when the last of all that white stuff melts. The golf season begins in April, a bluegrass festival kicks off in June, there's a Labor Day Celebration in September, and in the middle of all that a slew of motorcyclists take over Snowshoe in July.

My brother Daniel, his girlfriend Andrea, and I are fanatical bikers and whenever we can we like to associate with others who feel the same about our favorite pastime. That's why we decided our July shamrock tour in West Virginia should coincide with a visit to Snowshoe's Freedom Fest.

You'll meet friendly bikers on virtually every make and model anywhere you go here. Upon arrival, we got so caught up in conversations we were in danger of overshooting our check-in time. But the welcoming committee didn't seem to mind. No doubt these gracious ladies at the reception desk have pretty much seen it all and a few latecomers don't even register on their radar screen.

Parking our bikes in front of the welcome center at ten the next morning, I ran into another biker who says the guided tours always start at nine. Late again. 'Maybe we should read the program,' Daniel suggests. He's right (this once) and so we perused the folder detailing the calendar of events, grabbed the maps offered for self-guided tours, and planned a route that would return us in time for the evening's live entertainment in the Connection Night Club. There's something for everyone in the program for the week: a poker run, dealer demos, seminars, guided tours and then there's the real sharp parade to Cass for the dinner train which presents riders with a great opportunity to build camaraderie during the outdoor picnic and barbecue. Make an early reservation though - this entertaining evening is limited to 250 participants. And believe me, it is well worth the 25 bucks.

Saturday, and Daniel is very excited about the prospect of seeing the open-air concert of country-legend David Allan Coe. Twenty times he insists I choose a short round trip for the day's ride. I only accede to his wish because I want to see the bawdy balladeer myself. Back at the ranch after our ride the scene at Snowshoe is different - the composition and temperament of the attendant biker family has definitely changed. There are not so many polite, friendly bikers (the way I like them) around and more than enough of those wild, brand-oriented rowdies prowling the grounds. But I guess that's to be expected whenever the 'Original Outlaw' takes the stage. The organizers had done such a great job up to this point in my view, and then this faux pas. Other people felt the same way. One saying, 'I feel really uncomfortable when bikers are spitting, yelling, and kicking another motorcycle just because it's not their favorite brand.' I had to agree.

But in general it was a great well-organized event. Hopefully next year the festival will be held on dates that don't overlap with the Harley Rally in Buckhannon. This venue, Snowshoe, is certainly an ideal place for motorcycle events because there are miles of roads in all difficulties. Breath­taking landscape and many historical sites make this region an interesting getaway. And should you need a rest day for your posterior, boredom isn't an issue either. Whether you're seeking activities like hiking or white-water rafting or merely wish to hang around on the patios for coffee and deep, philosophical exchanges, Snowshoe fills the bill.

The restaurants, pubs and clubs offer you an engaging atmosphere with fairly reasonable pricing, the exception for the most part being the cost of certain varieties of beer. If you prefer a more rural, less-expensive locale, book your stay in the valleys surrounding Snowshoe.

Daniel, Andrea and I enjoyed our sojourn in Snowshoe very much. You will too.