I more or less love anything involving the word “vintage” – vintage clothing, vintage aprons and cookbooks, vintage Nancy Drew mysteries, and vintage salt and pepper shakers are some examples of the odd things I find it necessary to spend money on. So even though I have no particular affinity for motorcycles, when the word “vintage” was applied to the Ton-Up Motorcycle and Music Festival in Riverside Park, I knew I had to check it out. (The fact that the sister’s boyfriend was volunteering didn’t hurt, either).
The Ton-Up was organized by Cafe Racer, a relatively new business on the Depot Town scene (keep in mind when I say “relatively new” I could really mean anything that has opened within the last three years – I tend to think all things that have opened since I moved to CT are “new”). Cafe Racer is a combination motorcycle service shop (specializing in vintage motorcycles, particularly British and Japanese) and coffee shop. Brock (the boyfriend) had been hanging out with the Cafe Racer crowd and turned Kristen and I on to the Ton-Up event.
(I’m wondering if the event organizers met some initial resistance to the idea of bringing throngs of motorcycle enthusiasts to Depot Town, because the widely-distributed press release makes a point to mention that the crowd this event would attract would be “middle-aged and affluent.”)
The event ran from noon to 11:00 p.m. I would have loved to see the night crowd, but as I already had evening plans, Kris and I headed down around 2:00. We could hear the sounds of a Rockabilly band floating up to meet us as we walked through town and down to the park. There were already a good amount of bikes there when we arrived. Along with actual motorcycles, there were a variety of scooters.
I want to make it clear here that I know NOTHING about motorcycles. Absolutely nothing. But that was okay. All the people at the Ton-Up were extremely friendly and I have no doubt that they would have answered any stupid question I would have asked. And I had a great time looking at (and getting my picture taken by) bikes that looked like something young Marlon Brando could come riding up on in “The Wild One.”
In addition to the bikes and the bands, there were booths with vendors selling various items and services, food vendors, and a tasteful pin-up girl contest (I wish I had been there later to see the girls in their outfits – I love that style). There was also some sort of wrestling ring set-up and a man walking around in a Speedo and a cape, but I stayed away from that.
All in all, this was a really fun, low-key (at least in the early afternoon) event that brought an eclectic mix of people down to Depot Town. I saw people who looked like stereotypical bikers, hipsters, families with kids, preppy-looking girls (me) – all kinds of people, just walking around, looking at the bikes, mingling, and chatting. I hope that they got a good enough turn-out to make the Ton-Up an annual event – it’s a good event for Depot Town and for Ypsilanti.