Kentucky KickDown Vintage Motorcycle Show 2016 will be at various locations on Sept. 16, 17 & 18 in Louisville. It’s a festival with food trucks, music, artists, a pool tournament, and of course, motorcycles. Now in its fourth year, we talked with one of its founders and producers, Scott Halbleib, about how the festival came to be and why Louisville.

WFPK: Kentucky Kickdown is a vintage motorcycle festival. How did this come about?
Scott Halbleib: It stems from a local vintage group of motorcyclists formed back in 2009 called Louisville Vintage Motorworks. I met up with them early on at their weekly bike night which takes place at The Barret Bar every Wednesday. There was a small local show put on annually but in 2012 I asked if I could head that up and try and expand it. 2012 came and went. So, early in 2013 I decided I needed to bring someone else on board and get the ball rolling. I contacted Scott Shuffit of Lebowski Fest and Beatersville fame, and he said he was game. 7 months later and the inaugural KickDown went down. And people came from near and far – Philly, Tennessee, Chicago, Indy, Pittsburgh – and more keep coming each year. Last year we had folks from as far as Texas and one guy even rode down from Canada.

WFPK: What kinds of events and entertainment will be part of the festival?
SH: We’ve expanded the show into more of a festival over the past few years. The motorcycle show is still the basis for the gathering but the main point is just to celebrate bike culture and camaraderie. So, now the event takes place over three days. This year there will be a pre-party (the KickOff) at the Haymarket Whiskey Bar with live music and libations. Saturday morning you can participate in the Big Sid Memorial ride which travels out River Road towards Westport and then loops back around to the KickDown. There, we’ll have live music all day, numerous local food trucks, a pool tournament, Miss Kentucky KickDown contest, Dude Date stunt show, art show displayed inside Barret Bar, moto-related vendors from far and wide, and then of course the bike show itself which brings between 100-150 entrants ranging from garage builds to race bikes, choppers, to restorations. It’s always been a successful showing in that there’s something for everyone to look at, no matter what you’re into. The only stipulation is that all bikes in the show must be 25 years or older. Of course you can walk around the show space and see tons of other bikes as well. Barret Ave. stays closed down until 10 pm but the Barret Bar stays open until 2 am. Then on Sunday, there’s a gathering to unwind, congregate and have some doughnuts and coffee at Retro Wrench, one of Louisville’s few vintage bike shops. People can come down, KickIt and reminisce about the show before making their way home.

WFPK: Why do you think there’s been such growth in motorcycle culture? Why in Louisville in particular?
SH: Louisville’s cool. It’s just a great city with a great group of people. The Louisville Vintage Motorworks group is some of the best folks you’ll ever meet – kind of a melting pot of open-minded, progressive people that enjoy living life and share the perception that the best way to do that is on two wheels. And many of them either don’t have the funds to own a modern day bike, or just love the experience of riding (and working on) an old motorcycle. There’s a great deal of character in these old machines. But as a group our motto has always been that “all are welcome.” In general though, I think more and more people are starting to realize that getting out and traveling around on a motorcycle can bring a great deal of freedom and relief from the day to day.

WFPK: What is your hope for this festival in the future?
Good question. I’d honestly like it to become a little more organic, and I’d really like to see some more people get behind it. It’s a lot of work. We start on it in February and wrap up late September. Countless hours and money are spent to pull it off. We have over 30 Louisville Vintage Motorworks members staff the event all day and help with set up and tear down, and the Barret Bar and its staff pull 14 hour shifts. I’d really like to get more support from sponsors, especially on a local level. We’re bringing people from all over the country to experience our great city for a weekend and I would think more folks would want to be a part of it. I’ve been trying to get a bourbon sponsor for four years now…we’re in Kentucky, right? I’d just like to continue to expand the show but that takes more time so it takes more support. The response from attendees has been overwhelming, so I look forward to celebrating with more and more people each year.

Everyone come join us! You don’t have to be a motorcyclist to enjoy the show.


Laura is the WFPK Assistant Program Director and afternoon host.