It’s about freedom

ALGONA – If anyone attending the 29th annual A Brotherhood Aimed Toward Education Freedom Rally north of Algona in the ABATE of Iowa Freedom Park is in need of riding gear, Lois Seng, of Neosho, Mo., can help.

Along with her husband Charles Seng, she attends about 25 bike rallies throughout the United States each year, including Sturgis and Daytona.

They like the Algona rally.

“It’s the most fun rally we do,” Lois Seng said.

For them, the long ABATE weekend is all about people.

“We like everyone here,” she said. “The big group is like our family.”

The Sengs sell leather riding gear, boots and shirts; what sells best varies from show to show.

But one item always goes.

“Boots,” she said. “Everybody needs boots.” Not only to ride, but also for the evening afterward. “We have dress boots too.”

They’re also picky about what they sell. Like the Harley Davidson motorcycles roaring along the road nearby, they strive to sell American-made products.

“We ought to support who’s here,” Lois Seng said.

John Weiser, of Edina, Minn., was among those who stopped in to shop. A relative newcomer to riding, he was trying on a leather vest.

His criteria?

“Affordability, comfort and durability,” Weiser said.

Friends who attended the rally with him encouraged him to make a purchase.

“He came here in a polo shirt,” one said. “He’s leaving in a leather vest.”

An event for riders Friday was a bike rodeo; one competition involved pushing a beer keg along the ground with the front tire of a motorcycle. Riders could choose to roll it by pushing on the side or end.

Deseiri Schottus, of Fremont, was among those trying for the championship.

“I’m just earning my spot,” she said.

Schottus has been attending the rally for nine years.

“It’s the best rally you can go to,” she said.

Chris Granstra, of Sheldon, was entered in the bike rodeo too.

His secret? “Keep it between the lines. The long way is easier.”

Granstra said it was his third time attending.

“I like meeting people and talking,” he said.

Next on his agenda for the day: “I’m looking forward to Saliva tonight.”

Saliva was Friday night’s band on the main stage.

Nate Heinz and Adam Ramstad, both of Jordan, Minn., were spending a part of Friday relaxing in lawn chairs and watching the endless parade of riders going by.

Ramstad was showing off an extensive collection of tattoos; Heinz, his birthday suit.

“You can do anything,” Ramstad said.

They enjoy the camaraderie.

“It’s nice to be able to come down and be among like-minded people,” Heinz said.

Kent Clemons, public relations director for ABATE of Iowa, said that as of Friday about 5,000 people had gone through the gates. He was expecting many more today when they offer a One Day Special admission for $30 that gives access to four bands, camping and lots of vendors.

Despite the years that have passed, the core of the celebration is still the same, he said.

“Freedom of choice,” said Clemons.