Gearing up for Gear-Head Get Together


Gear-Head Get Together committee members - Bottom Row: Pete Miessen, Becky Hance, Larry Green and John Rivers. Top Row: Dave Rivers, Scott Chantland, Roger James, Mary James, Hans Melgaard, Tom Hanson, Beckah Pipenhagen, Dan Albrecht and Don Ramstad. Not Pictured: Linda Rasset, Mike Zieska and Vicki Zieska.

 An aerial view of just a portion of the event on Birch Ave. (Photos by John Rivers)

The Gear-Head Get Together has come a long way from its roots when it was just a few gear-heads showing off some of their favorite mechanical odds and ends down by the old creamery in Maple Lake.

Today the “get together” has become Maple Lake’s biggest event of the entire year, and one of the most unique car shows in the state and perhaps the country.
It all takes place this year on Saturday, Aug. 20, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in downtown Maple Lake.

“You can go to five different car shows any weekend of the summer. There are car shows, motorcycle shows and tractor shows. The idea here is to bring everything together. If you’re a gear-head, you can appreciate it all from a souped-up lawn mower to a classic car,” coordinator Scott Chantland said.

The idea when it started six years ago was to create a nostalgic atmosphere where mechanical-minded folk could show off some of their creations - like the 1939 motorcycle that showed up one year that had a frame made out of Ford Model T parts and ran on a Chevy engine. There is no contest, no awards and definitely no trophies.

“We’re about seeing something you don’t see every day. Other car shows focus on awards. We’re anti that. There are no awards, no trophies. We joke that if you want a trophy bring your own,” Chantland said.

The Gear-Head Get Together philosophy is if you love it, bring it and show it, and the more creative it is, the better.

In addition to the oddball items, there are plenty of shiny hot rods and collector cars, too, enough to practically take over the entire town. Streets are closed on the day of the event to accommodate the 600 to 700 vehicles, and then there is the swappers meet.

Only gear-head items are sold at this meet and there are plenty of them. With more than 100 vendors, enthusiasts can find everything from car, motorcycle and snowmobile parts to entire cars and full motorcycles for sale. There are also lots of petroleumrelated items, including vintage signs.

“There will be no sunglasses, compression socks or Tupperware sold at this swap meet, it’s all gear head items,” Chantland said.

The popularity of the meet has made the Gear-Head crew decide to move it to Bolduan Park and the parking lot of Irish Stadium this year to accommodate its size. It will have its own bandstand that will feature the old-time style country western band Darlene and the Boys from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. To make the trek to the swappers meet easier for walkers, the city will be closing second street all the way to Irish Stadium at noon. The swappers meet takes place from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. just like the car show and everything else.

The entire event has seen tremendous growth, doubling in size from those first three years, and it has continued to grow each year since, Chantland said. Over the years it has drawn people from not only Minnesota, but North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Iowa. The featured guest this year is Ron Finch, also known as the “Fabulous Finch” because of his unique style and design when it comes to building custom motorcycles. Finch, who comes to Maple Lake from Detroit, Michigan, has been building custom motorcycles since 1965 when he opened Finch’s Custom Styled Cycles. Since then he has been recognized as one of the top builders of the day, has been featured in many articles and won many awards. In 2010 he was inducted into the Hall of Fame by the International Master Bike Builders Association during the 70th Anniversary of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

Finch is also highly acclaimed for his metal sculptures which he will be showcasing at Gear-Head, in addition to some of his custom-made motorcycles
Another motorcycle phenomenon, Brad Villand, will be around throughout the day Saturday to entertain and amaze Gear-Head goers with his motorcycle stunts. This will be his second appearance at the Gear-Head Get Together, according to Chantland. He will put on shows throughout the day by the fire department that will include him driving over cars provided by French Lake Auto Parts.

There will also be a horse powered dyno that visitors can drive their car onto and see exactly how much horse power it has.

On the main stage will be the 1950s and ‘60s classic rock band Rockin’ Hollywoods from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m., and from 2:30 to 5 p.m. the country western band Pull Start Diesel will have command of the stage.

Anyone can come and show off their rides, rods or feats of mechanical ingenuity. There is no pre-registration, instead it is all based on first come, first serve. And everyone, gear-head or not, is invited to come and enjoy the day.

“It’s safe to say thousands of people come throughout the day,” Chantland said. “You walk up and down the streets and it’s just packed.”

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