Charity Rally Draws Crowds of Bikers to Dickson Street Bars

Both sides of Dickson Street were decked with parked motorcycles during the 2019 Bikes, Blues and BBQ rally.

For the past 10 years, one group of bikers has frequented Dickson Street Pub during Bikes, Blues and BBQ for the friendly, open environment.

UA alumna Kendall Byrd, a bartender at Dickson Street Pub, spent each day of the event serving a group of bikers who returned to the bar again and again, she said.

“They always want the spot right in front of the doors,” Byrd said. “They will always have someone there, and they will take turns so they will have that seat in front of the door.”

The group will buy beer for people sitting at the table they want, so the bikers can have it when the people originally sitting there leave, Tim Harris said.

Biker Tim Harris and his wife, Tori Harris, have been coming to Bikes, Blues and BBQ from Wichita, Kansas, with their friends, Al Letner and Dianne Letner, for the past decade and are always happy to meet a new bartender, Tori Harris said.

“When you spend two or three hours drinking beer with people, you kind of get to know them a little better,” Tori Harris said.

Byrd enjoyed the interesting stories that the Letner and Harris families shared with her about how they come to the bar every year during Bikes, Blues and BBQ and about how they all met through their backgrounds as teachers, Byrd said.

Byrd enjoys serving the bikers who attend Bikes, Blues and BBQ because she thinks they are usually friendlier than many of the college students who patron the bar because they tip well and are appreciative of the service, she said. 

The bikers because they treated her as if she were part of their family, Byrd said.

Tim Harris returns to the pub every year because he likes the open-air connection to Dickson Street, he said.

Here, they can sit down and meet people, either in the bar, or outside the door, finding ways to make conversation.

Tori Harris likes the bartenders at Dickson Street Pub because she thinks they are friendly, helpful and accommodating, she said.

When the bikers came Thursday night, Tori Harris asked for tomato juice to add to her beer to make a drink called red beer, but Byrd did not have any, Tori Harris said. “When I came back today, she came in and goes, ‘hey, guess what? I had my boss get tomato juice, you can have red beer.’” 

The rally has become something of a family tradition with the two couples, Al Letner said.

“This is my 11th year,” Al Letner said. “At (Tim Harris’) persistence, I bought a bike in 2009, and we came to Bikes, Blues and BBQ that year.” 

Bikes, Blues and BBQ is the world's largest charity motorcycle rally that benefits women, children and the underserved members of the Northwest Arkansas Community, according to the rally’s website.

As Bikes, Blues and BBQ came to a close, the group sought to repay the hours of conversation and Byrd’s kindness by bringing the bartender food during a busy shift where she might not have had much time to eat, an act of compassion she will never forget, she said.

Zachery Sutherland is a staff reporter for the Arkansas Traveler, where he has been a staff reporter since February 2019.

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