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Hog Daze draws thousands to Marion

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CHAT: Chuck Strawser talks about his bike with his friend Dave Riddle, who has been coming to the event ever since it began. Strawser said the crowd that comes each of the nine years he’s been are always welcoming and know how to have a good time.
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BIKES: Hundreds of bikes will be on display during the event, and there will beabike show going from 1 to 5 p.m. and a burnout competition at 7 p.m.

by James Ehle - jehle@chronicle-tribune.com

Volunteers transformed an empty area the size of six city blocks into a hub for motorcyclists and community members alike for Hog Daze.

The 10th annual event featured competitions like the beard and exotic facial hair competition and a pin up girl contest, along with several concerts, a motorcycle show, vendors, and more.

“We basically built a self-sustaining city down here.” said Andy Whitton, board of director for the Indiana Motorcycle Preservation Society and entertainment coordinator for the event. “We have 13 bands from across the nation. Some of them have number-one MTV hits, and some of them do 200 to 300 shows a year.”

The organizers want everyone to know that even though the event is a motorcycle rally, everyone in the community is welcome. The main cause at the heart of the event is to raise money for local children’s charities

“And all the profits from the gate go to First Light Child Advocacy Center, and they go to Help the Hopeful,” Whitton said. “100 percent of all profits stay with local charities. It’s something we believed in from the beginning, and everybody who works the event and everybody who’s on the board of directors is a 100 percent volunteer.”

The event usually averages around $15,000.

“The board of directors and all the volunteers even pay admission to come to event,” Whitton said. “Everybody has a giving spirit.”

The volunteers are made up of several local rider’s groups including American Bikers Toward Education, the Black Dragons, the Christian Motorcycle Association, The Tribe rider’s club in Gas City, and members of the city parks and street departments.

“Positive influence on the community is our ultimate goal,” said Steve Ybarra, a member of The Tribe rider’s club. “Sometimes the motorcycle community gets a bad rap – people see The Tribe or they see the colors of another club and think it’s a gang, when really we’re just a group of local guys that enjoy the camaraderie. It’s a really nice way for us to organize and give back to the community.”

The event is celebrating its 10th consecutive year, but the organizers are also honoring the 100th anniversary of the Cornfield Classic, a motorcycle race, which made its debut in Marion in 1919.

“The history is an awesome thing that everyone in Marion and Grant county should really appreciate and come down to celebrate with us,” said Whitton.

“We’re putting together a historical display booth down at the East gate, and we’re going to have some historic motorcycles and some memorabilia from the event. We have some printed material of the original advertising and some of the history and stories behind it.”

Chris Baker, a motorcycle salesman for Brandt’s Harley-Davidson, paid homage to the Cornfield Classic by designing and naming a dirt bike in honor of the event. 41 dealerships participated in a “Battle of the Kings” build, and Baker’s team built a dirt bike called “the Cornfield Crusher.”

“We actually came in first place in our category,” said Baker.

The event runs through Sunday and ends with a church service led by the Christian Motorcycle Association.