On August 22, 2015, Prism Supply collaborated with Los Angeles's-based Dice Magazine for a magazine release party in Charlotte, North Carolina. After witnessing firsthand the amount of unique bikes that showed up for the party, Prism and Dice knew Charlotte was ready for an event that could help foster the community of motorcycle builders and enthusiasts all along the East Coast. What started as a dream close to two years prior came to fruition on May 27, 2017.
A builder invitation show, The Congregation Show hosted over 100 classic and custom bikes, with the majority being from North Carolina and surrounding states. And that was just inside. In addition to the two-wheel machines, 30 classic hot rods were scattered along the wood floor, from Deuce Coupes to classic cruisin Mercs. An effort led by local hot rodders The Iron Lords.
The venue was chosen carefully as the Prism crew didn't want your run-of-the-mill convention center. To play host to such vintage motorcycles and cars, the backdrop complemented the apparent hand labor poured into each of the machines. Camp North End was chosen specifically for its unique qualities. The 240,000 square foot building was completed in 1924 as a manufacturing facility for Ford Model Ts and was later used to produce missiles for the United States Army in their efforts as part of the Allied Forces in World War II. The facility is now being revitalized and used as an event space right outside of Charlotte's city center. Attendees of The Congregation Show were privileged to walk the facility's original wood block floors, soaked in creosote - a feature implemented to help prevent a spark from spilled gunpowder.
The show could not have happened if it wasn't for the dozens of volunteers, some even from out of state, to lend a hand helping with merch sales, serving cold beer and other various tasks ensuring the show went off without a hitch. Volunteers even helped park those motorcycles that showed up to just hang out and walk the floor of the venue. Some of these motorcycles made the cut to park outside in the boiler yard, strategically positioned so that participants could walk all around the bikes, just as they were inside.
If cold beer, live music and food trucks weren't enough to entertain folks outside, they could meander the many vendors that set up inside Camp North End to show off their latest art and products. There was even a school bus inside that had been converted into a tattoo studio as an artist from Made to Last tattoo worked some fresh zips on attendees.
Volunteers were surprised to see so many out-of-state tags pouring into the parking lot hours before the doors opened at 3 p.m. Throughout the day, even the outdoor parking lot filled with vintage cars and motorcycles creating a makeshift show itself.
Despite the national feel to the show, the focus of the event was to keep everything very North Carolina centric. Three-quarters of the bikes were from the state dubbed First in Flight. The event shirts were made in North Carolina, local BBQ was served (the real deal, smoked all day kind of BBQ that you tend to find in the southeast), the beer was brewed in North Carolina and several other products throughout the vendor area were local to the state. It has always been Prism's focus to support their home state and their hometown, Charlotte, North Carolina.
As the sun began to set and the air cooled just a bit, the live band, The Loose Lugnuts, climbed onto their stage beneath the large water tower in the boiler yard. With good ol country music in the background provided by the live band, cold drinks and local, fresh food, as well as various seating like swings, rockers, custom wooden benches and more, created an environment that inspired contemplation and good times with good friends, new and old.
After it was all said and done, over 3,000 people walked through the rustic building, which is extremely impressive considering the event's first year. Not only was the quantity there, but so was the quality, thanks to the caliber of motorcycles and hot rods on hand. There was no judging component to this show giving it a more relaxed feel, an early objective carried through by Prism Supply.
Thanks to the event's success, the Prism Supply crew are excited for next year and hope everyone else is too. With the size of the building, there's plenty of room to grow.
Prism Supply and Dice Magazine could not have done this without the help of several sponsors pouring their time and resources into the show to make it a success. Prism would like to thank Harley Davidson, Centennial Trading Co, TC Bros, Highland Brewing, Sailor Jerry, Riders on the Norm, Purple Heart Homes and Iron Thread.
For more information, be sure to follow @thecongregationshow on Instagram. Next year's show is already in the works and the exact date is scheduled to be released in the coming days. Stick close to @prismsupply_ and @dicemagazine to see what they have in store for next year.
Words: Dustin Wilson and Ben Carroll
Photos: Jonathan Taylor