2019 Louisiana Bicycle Festival: Nearly 20 years of bizarre bikes rolling on the North Shore

This bike festival is nearly 20 years old. Here's what happens in Abita Springs on the Saturday before Father's Day.

In the year 2000, John Preble of the Abita Mystery House thought he could promote his wacky museum by hosting a bike fest in the middle of Abita Springs. Turns out, the festival did not bring in much money, but it did bring the people. Nearly 20 years later, the Louisiana Bicycle Festival attracts bicycle nerds and friends from around the U.S.

Photo courtesy: Louisiana Bicycle Festival

Cyclists can join the Louisiana Bicycle Festival on Saturday, June 15 on the lot in front of the Abita Springs Town Hall and behind the Abita Mystery House.

Preble, director of the event, sees the bike fest now like a family gathering where friends and families reunite from across the country to show off crazy bikes and trade stories.

“After 20 years, it’s sort of like a family reunion. We’ve had generations of families come and go. Children have grown up and they came here when they were first born, and now they are coming back,” said Preble.

Tori Rodriguez is one of those girls who grew up around the bicycle fest. She started attending the festival when she was 16 and, now at 22, she helps coordinate the whole thing alongside Preble and the community.

“It started as a way to bring people who like bikes together,” said Rodriguez.

And indeed it does.

Photo courtesy: Louisiana Bike Festival

With a town-wide bike ride, a bicycle auction and a collection of bizarre backyard-made vehicles, the Louisiana Bicycle Fest screams quirky vibes and good times. It doesn’t just attract returning attendees and bike nerds, though.

The free event is open to everyone. In fact, if you’ve never been before, don’t be surprised if you’re greeted with smiles and an offer to ride a high-wheel bike upon your first visit.

The festival always falls on the Saturday before Father’s Day. So, it’s a great event to get the family outdoors. But, don’t forget some sunblock or an umbrella. It’s a rain or shine event, so be prepared for the weather if you plan to spend the day out there. An ice chest full of water and snacks doesn’t hurt either.

Posted by Mary Blom Davis on Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Louisiana Bicycle Festival isn’t really meant to bank a profit.

“It’s meant to be simple, as the bike life is simple,” said Rodriguez.

Because of this idea that simplicity comes first, you won’t find a lot of live music or food vendors on-site. There are many local lunch and snowball stops within walking distance, though.

However, you can expect to see the strangest bicycles you’ve ever seen in your life. You’ll look at some and think, “how is that even possible?” These bike people are ready to share their stories, so just ask them.

The bike fest usually gets going around 10:00 am and dies down around 5:00 pm. The group bike ride rolls out around 12:30 pm for about a half-hour long wind through the town.

You’ll see the action happening right outside the Abita town circle.