HURON – Listen for the exciting sound of truck horns, fast cars and loud pipes. It’s time again for Wheel Jam, the annual Huron style weekend kickoff to summer.
This is the 16th year of Wheel Jam, where events continue from morning to late night for children and adults, plus much more. There is something for everyone to enjoy during Wheel Jam, from Friday through Sunday at the South Dakota State Fairgrounds.
“Wheel Jam itself offers free admission to come out and checkout the event,” explained Assistant State Fair Manager Candi Briley. “Wheel Jam is no small event; approximately 15,000 people come out over the three days,” she added.
“It’s a really great deal for Huron, for people to come out and see all the different activities and for families to enjoy as well,” Cundy said. “We discussed charging over the years and have stalled it every time. The sponsors help out so we don’t need to charge admission. That way people can come out and see the trucks, motorcycles and cars, the BBQ competition that is held at the same time, plus the carnival for kids and families.”
The third annual Candy Weinreis Memorial Poker Run will begin with registration from 5 to 6 p.m. at the Red Arrow bar in Huron, and take off set for 6 p.m. A small registration fee applies, of which half of the proceeds will go back to the first and second placers on the run.
“Participants get a stamp at each location and draw five cards; whoever had the highest poker hand wins cash payouts for first and second place. Also new this year is a drawing to win a set of bean bag boards; which a sponsor has donated. For every poker hand you buy, you will get a chance to enter the drawing to win the boards, by being in the Poker Run your name will automatically go into the drawing at the end,” explained longtime organizer Keith Cundy. “It is a memorial run for Candy Weinreis. She used to help with Wheel Jam activities so the run it in honor of her. This will be the third year of the memorial ride.”
The route will go from the Red Arrow to the Office Bar in Cavour, then to Margie’s Red Zone in Yale, Gross Hill Barn at Lake Byron will follow, then to Shooters in Wolsey, finishing at the Expo Building at fairgrounds, where there will be live bands and entertainment.
Cundy has been involved with Wheel Jam for approximately 11 years, after starting out his first year building the motorcycle to be raffled off for the event. The passion for motorcycles and race cars keeps Cundy involved each year he shared, but it’s also the nature of such a diverse and well attended event that involves the different ranges of interests people have in the Huron community.
Also beginning Friday the fairgrounds will be host to many different vendors throughout the weekend, the F.A.T. Friday Chili Challenge from 5 p.m. at the 18 wheel Stage area, Thomas Carnival rides and games will be open, plus doors open at 8 p.m. for the Big Jim Jam Fest at the Freedom Stage.
This year, Cundy has some new and exciting games planned for the biker community to rev their engines about.
“I have taken over the Biker Games this year, with some new, fun games that I made up which should keep it a little more interesting,” Cundy announced. “If people want to come and see, come to the east side of the carnival mat at 6 p.m. on Saturday. It’s free to enter any of the games and it’s all for fun with bragging rights for the winners.”
There will be a variety of exciting games for bike enthusiasts to get involved in, or for Wheel Jam attendees to go along and watch the fun fast entertainment.
“Some of the games include the slow drag race with a twist and a water balloon relay race,” Cundy said with excitement. “After 15 years of watching bike games and realizing what works and what doesn’t, I have decided to pick the games the either make people laugh or we have lots of fun. I am excited because that’s my persona; to make sure people have fun. We will see how it goes, but I think people will really enjoy it.”
After last year, the burn-out pit received more attendance than participation, so Cundy noted that his focus has been moved to creating new and exciting biker games. Assisting in the games alongside Cundy will be Matt Johnson, Steve Lovett, Jordan Tschetter and his daughter, Tiffany Cundy.
“At one time I was building the custom cars and motorcycles for Show and Shine, it got to be a lot, so this year I lowered my responsibilities in order to focus on working toward a better outcome,” explained Cundy. “My hopes are for the weather to hold like it’s saying it’s going to, and for everybody to have a great time at Wheel Jam. With all the live bands and the new fight night this year, there is something for everybody to enjoy. Come out and support this great event.”
Saturday will be jam packed full of excitement, throughout the day with the parade, for motor enthusiasts the Make It Mine Classic Car and Motorcycle Show N Shine, Wheel Jam Truck Show People’s Choice, Pickup Party plus much more, and some brand new entertainment in the evening with the Wheel Jam Slam Fight Night with doors to open at 6 p.m. and fights beginning at 7 p.m. at Nordby Exhibit Hall.
“Knock Out Events came to us and wanted to know if they could have the Fight Night during Wheel Jam, so we were able to work out the details and we’re excited to have them,” Briley said. “It makes for a great Saturday night because you can check out the fights, go over to the truck light show, and Sushi Roll will also be on the Freedom Stage. There is a lot happening and we are very happy to be working with Knock Out Events.”
The fun is set to continue as the sun goes down, with the truck light show at dusk and music in accordance to the show from 10 to 11 p.m. on the Big Jim app, while a Chicago based cover band with a wide range of genres will perform on the Freedom Stage.
“The Truck Show Light Show starts at dusk on Saturday, then from 10 to 11 p.m., if people have the Big Jim app on their phones, the station will be playing special music along with the light show, so you can walk around, listen to that and look at the lights,” explained Briley. “Sushi Roll will be making their debut in this area. They’re a cover band that plays many different types of music. They were talking about their set list and it ranges from classic rock to pop. We are excited about the theatrics they will bring; it’s a very energetic show. They have played Sioux Falls a few times but this is the first time in this neck of the woods.”
The Wheel Jam Parade is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m., with participants to line up from 9 a.m. at Market Street and Dakota Avenue. There is still a need for more volunteers to assist on the staffing of the parade route, those who are interested may contact the State Fair office.
“The BBQ championships are also taking place alongside Wheel Jam. We’re excited to have Weston Frank playing during the BBQ and Backyard BBQ People’s Choice. That will be a nice enhancement to the atmosphere; music and BBQ go hand in hand,” Briley said.
“We have some new kids’ activities for Sunday. We added the kids’ Pedal Pull, and the Trike and Bike Parade; people can bring their already decorated bikes to the fairgrounds. We judge the entries based on creativity and the first placers win a brand a new bike,” explained Briley.
Registration is at 12:30 p.m. for both events, with the parade to start at 1 p.m., and pull is set for 1:30 p.m. on Sunday at Flag Avenue on the fairgrounds.
Also on Sunday there will be the Wheel Jam Truck Show, with judging from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and Windriders A.B.A.T.E. judged motorcycle show from noon to 4 p.m. at the Family Living Center. The Wheel Jam awards are set to begin at 4 p.m. at the stage south of Prostrollo’s Building, plus more.
“We’re hoping people will come out and enjoy the car/motorcycle/truck shows, have some lunch, let the kids run around and then they can participate in the Parade and Pedal Pull,” stated Briley. ”We thought that we’d add some more activities to keep it different this year. We also have the Thomas Carnival and the Boy Scouts have a climbing bridge they set up, which is really cool.”
For more information on events visit the website at www.wheeljam.com or call the State Fair office at 353-7340.
“If anyone has a motorcycle, car, pickup or even a semi-truck, look at the website or call the State Fair office to find out information on how to enter for the various events,” Briley stated. “The event as a whole is exciting; the different shows, the addition to the new things going on, the spin on the Biker Games, new kids events, and the new fight night, it adds more excitement to Wheel Jam.”