It's hard to think of what I was up to at the end of my February months before The Mama Tried Show took it over. It has become such a staple event in the Midwest not only for me but for thousands of people over the past 4 years. It's definitely one show I try to never miss. The show is based out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin home of good food, amazing beer, fried cheese and of course Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Show founders Scott Johnson and Warren Heir Jr. started The Mama Tried Show back in 2014 with the idea of making a motorcycle show like no other. They wanted to stay away from cliches and make a show how they thought it should be. Focusing hard on the small details and planing everything to the extreme, the show never fails to impress motorcycle enthusiasts from all over the world that come in for a weekend immersed in a motorcycle heaven, so to speak. The entire weekend is jam packed with parties, racing, motorcycles, art, and oh did I mention more motorcycles. There is just so much to do, no one even minds the cold and bitter winter weather. This year was the first time I made it up a day earlier than normal and I also didn't have to drive from Ohio with a trailer, a bike or even artwork. With just a quick 45 minute plane ride with Tyler and Gorgeous Greg on a Thursday afternoon, all I could do was think about the shenanigans we were about to get into.
Thursday - 02.22.18
As we landed in Milwaukee, WI where we immediately ran into some friends upon waiting for an Uber. It was a sign that it was gonna be a great weekend. After checking into our hotel we found a rad asian cuisine place and got our eat on. Never being in Milwaukee on a Thursday before the show I wasn't to sure what we should do, in the end we decided to go straight to Fuel Cafe where the official Pre-party was already getting on its way. Crowded and a bit warm inside the party seemed a little tame at first. With in 30 minutes after thinking it was a pretty tame party, a group of guys came ripping into the bar on mini bikes and racing around the crowded bar. As they exited and people laughing, Mark Atkins aka Rusty Butcher comes riding in and does a massive burn out followed by a good friend ours Kendall on the infamous PBR chopper. The crowd surrounded Kendall holding his sissy bar while he let the throttle rip. Though it was hilarious in the moment and really got the crowd going, the smell of burnt rubber over took the atmosphere inside the bar and most scattered outside for some fresh air.
Roaming around and drinking a few of Milwaukees finest beers, the night grew more entertaining by hanging out with a ton of people I haven't seen in over a year, since the last Mama Tried show. Snapping photos and giving high-fives you couldn't of asked for a better time. As the night went on, someone said we were moving to a different bar where then I ended up, how do you say, getting Pat Pattersoned... If you don't know what that means it's, Shots shots and oh more shots. I had made the rookie move of going to hard on the very first night. Still, I had a ton of fun but Friday morning was a different feeling all together.
Friday - 02.24.18
Waking up in our hotel I remember feeling great, and wanted to get some coffee. Not even 30 minutes later a storm came over my body and I felt a little less enthusiastic about my decisions on having a few extra drinks with Pat Patterson from Led Sled the prior evening. We slowly made our way to the new Mama Tried venue at "The Rave" aka the old Eagles Club to grab our press passes and check out who was already set up. As I struggled to walk up the 4 flights of stairs to see the main hall, I discovered there was already 50 plus bikes loaded in and more were coming up a small elevator. One bike was so long, it took 6 guys to carry it up the 4 flights of stairs. I'm really glad I wasn't one of those guys.
Noticing there were so many bikes to choose from, I grabbed a few of my favorites and set up some speed lights on chairs. I know, real professional, but it got the job done. Flying, I had to pack light, yet some how I managed to cram two speed lights, triggers and bunch of lenses with two cameras in my bag, it really wasn't that light. Feeling a little pukie, I managed to get some good shots while Tyler and Greg made a few new friends including Ricky from Germany who had this insane all cast aluminum electric bike.
As the nausea finally exited my body and the day hit closer to the evening, we made our way towards the BMO Harris & Bradley Center where Flat Out Friday would be held. Walking from the cold outside air into the steamy exhaust filled air of the pits, I felt the nausea come back just a little bit. After signing my life away and getting my wristband for the center of the track, I took a few minutes to observe what some of the guys and gals were racing in the pits. By the way when I say I signed my life away, I truly mean it, literally in every sense of the words. If you get hit by a bike and or die, it's all on you and no one is liable but yourself. It's just a little reminder on how dangerous it can be to take photos that close. Running into the center of the track, the adrenaline in my blood started to boil and the rest of the night was a blur of amazing racing. It really is one of my all time favorite things to shoot, for the sheer sketchiness of it all.
Saturday - 02.24.18
The day of the show, It almost always feels like Christmas morning to me. I know what I'm getting but always feels so good. To be surrounded by amazing people and brilliant motorcycles all day long, what more can you ask for? I set up shop at my friends booth; Chris and Jo Galley of Devil Chicken Designs and then started to make my rounds snapping photos in the main hall. Arriving a little late, I didn't realize the doors were already open and people started filing into the main hall by the hundreds. By 11am the main hall was jam packed and it stayed that way with a constant flow of show attendees until about 8pm. If I had to guess through out the day they had 7 to 8 thousand people or more come through those doors, don't quote me on that but that was my judgment on the attendance on Saturday. The new venue supplied a lot larger capacity which helped immensely then prior years and everyone was in good spirits. It was a mad house in there and I couldn't of been happier for Scott, Warren and their staff on how amazing the turn out was.
With the different venue came a completely different feel and look to the entire show. The vendors were spread throughout the entire building and on each floor which made for some fun to seek out who was set up and who wasn't. They also had a film festival going on in the lower level of the building, highlighting motorcycle indie films and showing them for free. To top it all off for convenience they even had bands play the after party which was held on the second floor of the venue at night. Super easy way to spend the entire day. I kept my main focus on the bikes in the main hall, ducking and dodging elbows and butts to get some photos where I could. It made for a real challenge but overall I had a ton of fun and got a little more creative with my compositions.
Sunday - 02.25.18
Think about it, if you spent over 15 hours somewhere, most likely you wouldn't want to go back to that same place, right? Nah... Sunday morning I ran right back to the show to try and grab as much video and photos as I could. The show stays open on Sunday for those who couldn't make it Saturday for just a few hours. Again as the doors opened, a flood of show attendees came filing into the main hall. As noon approached faster than I could blink, builders started to line their bikes up to load out. And just like that Mama Tried 2018 was a wrap. I couldn't believe it was over.
In summary, if you like motorcycles, racing, good food, parties, and amazing people then The Mama Tried Moto Show is for you. It keeps getting bigger and better, and always keeping me on my toes with excitement. If you have never been to Mama Tried, I promise making the trip will be fully worth it and you won't regret your decision to go to one of the coldest place in the dead of winter as a vacation. Till next year Mama Tried, it's been real!
Words and Photos by: Mikey Revolt