RALEIGH — It was a get-together biker style Saturday as hundreds of motorcyclists rode into downtown Raleigh for all-you-can-eat buffalo wings, fellowship and a chance to give back to the community.
The annual buffalo wing cookoff crowded the grounds of Ray Price Harley-Davidson with rows of parked motorcycles. By the time the daylong event ended, around $3,400 had been raised for the Duke Children’s Miracle Network, and 39 people had given blood to Rex Healthcare in Raleigh.
“The wings are great,” said Scott Curtner, 54, of Raleigh, who came with his son Lucas, 15. “The money goes to a good cause. That’s all that matters.”
The wing cookoff has become a summer tradition at Ray Price, which plays host to different cooking events during the year. For $5, attendees could eat as many buffalo wings as they wanted. The proceeds went to charity.
“We’re always looking to do things to help the community,” said Kris Weiss, the dealership’s marketing director.
Among the 10 teams vying to win Saturday’s contest was Freedom Biker Church in Clayton. The church received third place from the judges.
Floyd Baker, the church’s missions pastor, said bikers like himself account for 40 percent of the church’s attendance each Sunday.
“Christians get a really bad reputation that you can’t do anything fun,” said Baker, 58, of Garner. “It’s our responsibility to show that we’re regular people, too, and can enjoy ourselves.”
A recurring message Saturday was that bikers have gotten a bad rap in the public’s eye.
“When people see these many motorcycles, they think it’s the Hell’s Angels and stay away,” said Mike Meredith, 68, of Archer’s Lodge. “But I’ve been to many rallies, and there’s never been a problem.”
Meredith, who was openly carrying a pistol on his left hip, said he’s been to 50 rallies. He came riding in on his Harley with his wife, Kathryn, 59.
Jessica Whaley-Davis, 33, of Cary, isn’t a biker. She came with her daughter Delaney, 6, and her son Will, 3, to cheer on a friend who was in the cookoff. Will got a chance to sit on several motorcycles.
“You wouldn’t think the stereotypical motorcyclist would be so wiling to let a child sit on his bike,” she said.
Juli Moody, who calls herself “The Female Human Link,” tried to dispel another stereotype on Saturday by using her arms to hold in place two motorcycles going in opposite directions at 30 miles per hour. The stunt ended after a minute when a tire burst on one of the motorcycles.
Afterward, females of all ages, but especially young girls, flocked to Moody to shake her hand and have a picture taken with the powerlifter.
“Motorcycling has historically been a man’s sport,” Moody said. “But women are getting more and more into motorcycling. It’s a great inspiration for them to see a woman doing something amazing with a motorcycle.”
Dan Baker, 54, of Youngsville, who is not related to Floyd Baker, said he plans to be at next month’s 74th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. It’s one of the world’s largest motorcycle rallies, drawing more than 400,000 people to the small South Dakota town.
While Saturday’s event in Raleigh is far smaller, Baker said it’s the camaraderie that matters.
“This is kind of a lifestyle,” he said. “You can be here with other people like you.”