When you think of a community that loves motorcycles, Charlotte is definitely not the first city that comes to mind, but to my great surprise, this city has no reason to envy its west coast counterparts. In the heart of Charlotte is the headquarters of PRISM Motorcycle, and also the well-known DICE magazine, both deciding to leave Los Angeles for a breath of fresh air in this young, flourishing scene of vintage choppers, mostly found on the eastern coast of North Carolina. As Dean Micetich, the co-founder of Dice told me, after 17 years in California, he found the chopper scene to be going around in circles. A revitalization was needed and he found it in Charlotte. This is a place where everything is relaxed compared to the hectic lifestyle in Los Angeles, but there is a nice gang of young chopper enthusiasts with a thirst for new and different projects. PRISM and Dice share their work space in a place called Camp North End. The Ford Model T’s were built here almost 100 years ago, and the place also served as a bomb factory during the second world war. The magnificent brick floors, still present today, were installed when the building was converted into an arms factory with a specific purpose: to prevent sparks should a bomb be accidentally dropped! Today, the building has been converted into a gathering place for young entrepreneurs and artists with all its industrial charm having been preserved. This old Ford factory was simply the perfect place for the Congregation Show.
Jake Hindes, an exceptional manufacturer and co-owner of the Prism Supply workshop and Dean Micetich (Dice Magazine) are the 2 people behind this event, which is already in its third year. With these 2 guys, known for their work and passion for the motorcycle world, it is difficult to imagine why this event would not be successful. As I have been told, the size of this event has doubled each year since its creation! But what is most striking is not the size but rather the vehicles on display! I could not believe my eyes. Each project was selected with great care. Walking among the aisles was like a trip back in time. You will see much more than motorcycles here, with the crème de la crème in hotrods and vintage cars of the eastern United States. From the 1933 Ford prepared by the Sugar City Speed Shop, searching the beaches of Wildwood for TROG to 2 superb Model A’s built by Bobby Hilton of the mythical Hilton Hotrod shop, I can confirm that there is lots to see.
As for motorcycles, the list of preparers present would be the envy of the biggest shows of California. Guys like Matthew Waln, Zack Harnish, Tim O’Keefe and many others provide the pleasure of admiring their machines. There were different styles of motorcycles: original and non-restored, racing motorcycles of the 1940s, and much more. What I find most interesting is that the “period perfect” aspect is the keyword. For those who are not familiar with this term, it means that a project, either a vehicle or a motorcycle, was created according to the rules of the art, using only the parts and methods used back in the day. This adds to the challenge because although it is easy to order a complete accessory catalogue on the Internet, it is much harder to search for years in many different places to find the rare parts that will match with the project and make it stand above the others thanks to its authenticity. This is what you will find most often at the Congregation show.
The classic recipe of the contemporary “moto show” is also present: old bikes in the industrial building, artisan booths, music groups and tattoo artists. But beware, the Congregation Show is distinguished by the execution and the selection of its projects. If, like me, you have attended many motorcycle events, you know that in this type of show, there is always a certain number of vehicles in the lot that don’t interest you. Many events opt for the easy recipe, in other words, they include the greatest number of motorcycles possible, accepting all the different styles, in order to please the most people possible. This is not the case at the Congregation. There are no comprises. If you don’t like the world of American vintage, then this is not the place for you. But if this is what excites you, you are in for a jaw dropping experience!
In conclusion, I can admit without a doubt that the Congregation Show was one of my favourite events this year. The friendly people of Charlotte, the gang of vintage enthusiasts, the incredible selection of vehicles and motorcycles, the ambiance of Camp North End and even the warm weather of south-eastern United States all made for a winning recipe. Yeah, ok, you might say I am biased because at the time I had had enough of the never-ending Quebec winter, but I had such a good time that when I returned home, I started looking at houses for sale in Charlotte hahaha! One thing for sure, I will be attending the Congregation Show again!