For Cavalier, Father’s Day always brings the rumbling of thunder throughout the weekend, but that does not mean that it is going to storm. That rumble is the sound of thousands of motorcycles making their way to the small northern town for the Cavalier Motorcycle Ride-In.
It all started because of a new Harley-Davidson motorcycle and a Black Hills Gold jewelry salesman. In 1997, Nancy Jenson was working at Hillman’s Jewelry on Main Street Cavalier, and one of the business’s jewelry distributors was showcasing some new Harley Davidson pieces they were offering. It just so happened that Nancy’s husband, John, had just received his new Harley-Davidson Heritage Springer Softail after ordering a motorcycle two and a half years prior. Nancy was excited for John’s new toy, and with Greemer and Gladys Hillman’s approval, Hillman’s Jewelry started carrying the new motorcycle themed pieces.
To sell the new products to the proper audience, the Hillmans worked with a local committee who marketed the retail businesses of Cavalier. Together they transformed a Thursday “late night” shopping event into the Cavalier Motorcycle Ride-In. They took out a few local radio ads, a print ad in the Cavalier Chronicle, and posted flyers in the area inviting motorcyclists to come to Cavalier to see what Main Street had to offer. In small town fashion, somebody knew somebody that had a garage band, and they were invited to perform atop a trailer on a grassy lot. The businesses set up shop that night not really knowing what to expect, but as the famous movie quote goes, “if you build it, they will come.” That first Cavalier Motorcycle Ride-In was reported to have between 70-80 motorcyclists rolling into town. Planners and participants knew there was something to this event, so they continued the Thursday night Cavalier Motorcycle Ride-In for a few more years.
Eventually the Ride-In outgrew its Thursday night timeslot and was moved to Saturday; an arm-wrestling tournament was added as well. At one point the arm-wrestling tournament lasted 8 hours. The committee exchanged arm-wrestling for mud-wrestling and hosted various biker games, including the “Slow Race”, “Ride and Bite”, and the burnout competition. When the Cedar Inn began hosting a Friday night kick-off party featuring a beer garden and live music, the Cavalier Motorcycle Ride-In became a two-day event. Over time the Ride-In continued to grow thanks to the forward-thinking of past and present committee members who introduced new opportunities for spreading the word of the Cavalier Motorcycle Ride-In regionally, nationally, and internationally. Today, the committee, the community of Cavalier and surrounding areas expect anywhere from 2,000-5,000 people to attend the weekend-long event.
In 2012, the Cavalier Motorcycle Ride-In raffled off their first motorcycle, a 2012 Harley-Davidson Sportster. Over the last eight years the committee has raffled off various makes and models of motorcycles with winners from both the US and Canada. The goal of the raffle was to be able to give back to the communities that supported the Ride-In. To date, the Cavalier Motorcycle Ride-In has donated over $35,000 to various charities and organizations including the Cavalier City Pool, Pembina County Social Service programs, the Sunshine Hospitality Home, and ND/MN Veterans Flight.
With another Father’s Day weekend quickly approaching, the current committee of 12 individuals has been working diligently to plan and pull off the 25th Annual Cavalier Motorcycle Ride-In on June 18-19. This year’s Ride-In will bring back many fan favorites such as the street dances, vendors, food trucks, biker games, fun runs, and a few new attractions. The weekend kicks off on Friday with the Pubs and Pipes Scavenger Hunt Fun Run through Cavalier and surrounding communities and is followed by a free street dance featuring the live band, Back for More.
Saturday starts with a group ride east through the beautiful Rendezvous Region that starts and ends in Cavalier. Afterward, stick around for the food trucks and vendors, games, and two more live bands, Classic Rock Redemption during the day and Paint the Town for the weekend finale street dance. New this year, the committee booked the Yamaha Factory Stunt Team, Twinstunts- the world’s only freestyle stunt team featuring twin brothers. Additionally, they will be hosting a Hi/Lo Dice Shake throughout the day and a Look-A-Like Contest featuring characters from the popular TV show Sons of Anarchy on Saturday.
This year the committee is raffling a 2021 Indian Springfield purchased from Wheels, Inc. of Fargo, and it is currently on display at Birchwood Chevrolet Buick in Cavalier. The proceeds from this year’s raffle will benefit Make-A-Wish North Dakota. Make-A-Wish North Dakota is a foundation that provides life-changing experiences to children with critical illness. Tickets are currently available for purchase at select Cavalier businesses for $20 and will be available until the Saturday drawing at 6:00 p.m.
Registration for all the events will be at the Napa parking lot on Main Street in Cavalier. See the Cavalier Motorcycle Ride-In website for further information: cavaliermotorcycleridein.com and ‘Like’ their page on Facebook.