You may have seen that headline, “Boogie, Boogie, Boogie…”, or the popular variation of “Boogie, Oogie, Oogie…”, gracing this column during summer’s past. Since it’s only once a year, and many people probably don’t (or can’t) remember from year to year, its not really redundant. The fact is, it’s July and it’s time to Boogie.
With 42 years of history, “the Midwest’s Best Biker Fest” is definitely one Helluva a party. Although it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it fits the definition of a good time for an awful lot of people. Whether 1,500 or 15,000, everybody that attends the Boogie has a great time. Most first time attendees (Boogie Virgins) tell us that they are coming back and will never miss another Boogie. This is how traditions start. If you’ve not been before, come check it out and let us know what you think.
The Boogie has a little something for everybody and we are always looking to add things to keep it fresh. Last year we added the Boogie Beach and reconfigured the tents to provide a more inviting entertainment area. This year we will have an expanded vendor area and a more open and comfortable spectator experience for the main stage.
While a few people prefer to keep the Boogie experience old school and pure to the biker rally atmosphere, a lot of our guests really enjoy the themes that we started back in 1999 marking the 50th anniversary of Woodstock. For 2022 we are planning a few surprises to support the “Boogie at the Big Top” circus theme. I suspect that we’ll see a few sexy clowns, but also anticipate some ringmasters, animals and other “performers”. Use your imagination to decorate your campsite, golf-cart and yourself to run off and join our circus and compete for prizes.
I’m sure that some people are not aware of the Boogie’s beginnings. ABATE of Indiana’s first “State Party” was created to celebrate the accomplishments that the organization achieved in our first years of existence. It was an opportunity to get everybody together to thank them, have some fun and encourage others to get involved.
Make no mistake, it was also a fundraiser. Even before ABATE was an official not-for-profit, we were a small, young organization that needed money to accomplish our mission. Pretty much all organizations use a similar model to support their cause. Fire departments have fish fry’s, school PTOs (we used to call them PTAs) have chili suppers and churches have rummage sales. Bikers throw a party.
Back in 1981, and in the years following, we had some pretty successful events and the Boogie grew. It was still the “State Party”, but with the move to Bean Blossom it had become the largest city in Brown County for one weekend a year. This was fantastic, but brought with it a few growing pains.
At about 3:00 in the morning, one night in the early 90’s, Spacy Dave stopped by the front gate and found one of the three people working the gate drunk. The other two were passed out with armbands and cash laying out on the table. Spacy had a fit (I witnessed a couple of those) and “suggested” that they couldn’t do that (be drunk and work the gate). They responded by saying he couldn’t tell them what to do since they were volunteers. Spacy fixed that by paying the people that handled money (mostly gate workers).
This seemed fairly reasonable, but quickly snowballed out of control. By the time I became executive director, virtually everyone working the Boogie was being paid. In addition to this, ABATE was paying for golf-carts, supplies and equipment, lodging, food and giving them a t-shirt and thanking them for “volunteering”. No offense or disrespect to anyone that worked the event during that time, as it had become the commonly accepted practice. Suffice to say that when you are paying “volunteers” it ceases to be a fundraiser.
Of course we all know how difficult it is to go backwards. That is why it has taken the Board of Directors so long to address this. Working in phases over the last few years, we have reached the point where very few people (professional services contractors) are now actually being paid.
So here is the “ask”, we need volunteers. This is gonna sound like some Tom Sawyer hustle, but there really is no better way to experience the Boogie than “behind the scenes” working on one of the crews. We want you to have time to get into some real fun at the Boogie (which may mean drinking), so we only need a few hours. Some shifts are as short as just a couple hours or so.
To show our appreciation to volunteers, if you work 10 hours over the course of the four days, not only will we give you a limited-edition, not available in stores, really cool, official “Boogie Crew” t-shirt, but we will also reimburse you at $5 per hour up to the amount you paid to get in. Long story made short, volunteer for a few hours and you end up getting in for free and get a really cool shirt. Plus… you get the experience of a lifetime and make some new friends and perhaps gain a new skill (alright, that was definitely Tom Sawyer).
We would love to have you join the Boogie Crew “family” and live the Boogie from the inside out. To see the schedule of some of the jobs that are available check it out at Sign-Up Genius. I guarantee you will enjoy it.