Tips for avoiding (most of) Bikes, Blues & BBQ

Bluff at Buffalo Point, Buffalo National River / Courtesy of National Park Service

Here’s how many locals I know handle Bikes, Blues & BBQ, myself included:

They pop in for a visit on Wednesday or maybe Thursday, grab a turkey leg and a beer and watch a cover band on a big stage. They go to watch the leather-clad out-of-towners rumble in, too. It’s quite the spectacle.

And then, they get the heck out of town.

This is a good time to mention I don’t get irrationally angry as some do at Bikes, Blues & BBQ, which begins Wednesday (Sept. 20) and continues through the early-morning hours of Sunday (Sept. 24) at various venues around Northwest Arkansas.

The guests bring in tax revenue, and area hotels fill to the brim. BB&BBQ is a four-day, all-hands-on-deck affair for the restaurants and bars that line Dickson Street, and most of them welcome the boost.

But they also bring in some headaches. For starters, the Parade of Power shuts down traffic on College Avenue for an hour, and Dickson Street is impassable for the whole weekend, and at night you can’t park anywhere within two miles of Dickson Street (and only then for $20).

What follows are the Top 6 places to avoid the rumble of motorcycles this weekend:

1. The Fayetteville Square

How is it that such a disconnect can exist between the bellowing of Dickson Street and the quaint confines of the Square? Frankly, I can’t explain it. But I know it exists. For whatever reason, bikers don’t make the quick jaunt south from Dickson to the Square. One downtown business owner I talked to says he might see 50 extra biker types in his store during the entire weekend. That’s 50 out of an estimated 300,000 visitors. So walk to your neighborhood store or restaurant, give fellow locals some love and stay just out of range from the noisy masses. Do check to make sure your favorite local business or restaurant is open – some choose to close for the weekend.

2. The Fayetteville/Razorback Greenway Trail System

I have, unfortunately, watched an over-confident, lawless rider decide that the “No motorized vehicles” signs on the Razorback Greenway didn’t apply to them. Still, that’s rare, and the Fayetteville trail system can get you into some pretty territory in a hurry, such as Lake Fayetteville, Wilson Park or Walker Park. The trails can also transport you to shops and a few breweries, too, saving you from the roads. That’s a victory.

3. Visit a brewery

Speaking of breweries, why not try one of the local ones this weekend? Light, mass-produced pilsners are the beverage of choice for many of those in the BB&BBQ crowd. This is a good time to visit one of the area’s brewpubs and sample something new. Several breweries are adjacent to the Greenway, so if you have a bike (the non-motorcycle type), you can go AND avoid driving on congested streets.

4. The Fayetteville Public Library

There will be a bit of noise at the Fayetteville Public Library – it’s just too close to the center of the rally. But, the library has its own parking garage, and it has thousands of items to help you relax indoors. That’s a good combination. Grab a book or a movie – preferably early in the day so you don’t have to fight against peak traffic – and settle in for the night.

5. Go see a movie

Adding the time in the snack line and watching trailers, a movie is good for at least two hours of distraction in a space impervious to outside noise. Or, if you feel like trying the 112 Drive In, “It” is the featured movie.

6. The Ozark Wilderness/Buffalo National River

Sometimes, the only way to beat the crowd is to leave them behind. It’s going to be tough to get an official camping spot at this stage in the process (many bikers will camp, too), but I might suggest walking outside any of the national park campsites and setting up shop there. At the Buffalo National River area, for instance, regulations mandate that you camp at least a half mile from a National Park Service-developed station, but the wilderness area is open beyond that radius. So, the solution from there is simple – just hike a half mile into the woods and find a little peace. I’ve been noticing a bit of color change in the leaves, so this is a good time to go. And, really, you might want to go this weekend. It’s about to be loud.