Donnie Smith knows how to put on an event. Five years ago, attendance for the Donnie Smith Invitational was about 5,000 people. This year, attendance was around 17,000, and that's taking into consideration a snowstorm that closed down the two major freeways into the St. Paul, Minnesota area until the Friday before and left 20 inches of snow. It makes you wonder what the numbers would have been like if Mother Nature hadn't thrown a temper tantrum so close to the show.
Blizzards aside, Donnie always likes to hold the show in March, knowing that as soon as the sun shines in Minnesota, the bikes will be out on the road and not indoors - his included. Therefore, the Donnie Smith Invitational for 2006 will be held on March 25 and 26, so be sure and mark your calendars. Tickets will be available for purchase in advance online at www.thedonniesmithbikeshow.com. We highly recommend that you do purchase tickets online seeing as how this year there was about an hour-long wait to get inside, and advance ticket purchase bypasses that line.
Being the veteran of the industry that Donnie is, anything less than a killer time would be frankly unacceptable to himself and his colleagues, many of whom were in attendance. Vince Doll, Dave Perewitz, Sonny Barger, and of course, Donnie Smith, were all at their respective booths signing autographs and shaking hands with attendees. Some other mentionable industry personality appearances were made by Brian Klock, Tim Remus, John Kosmoski, and Neil Ryan.
With 42 different show classes, bike candy to suit any kind of taste - even bad - was on display en masse. A first for this year was the "Midwest Biker Builders Challenge," a biker build-off challenging the talents of the local builders. It was Mark Calhoun and Carl Wallin of Stack's Creative Customs versus Ron Sullivan of Extreme Custom Choppers. Stack's Creative Customs beat out Extreme Custom Choppers blue rigid chopper with a red Pro-Street-looking bike running an open primary and right-side chain final drive. There was also the Headline Bike Show with over $6,000 in total cash awarded to the winners.
There was swap meet full of parts to dig through, and with over 300 vendors selling their wares as well, you could spend one day on parts hunting alone. Of course, there was a beer or two or more to be enjoyed while gazing at bikes, rummaging through parts, talking to builders, and posing for pictures. Donnie likes to keep his show about the bikes, and by the increasing success of the show each year it's obvious his patrons appreciate his philosophy.