Bobby Deter, 66, of Waynesburg has spent over three decades around motorcycles and dirt bikes.
He has been riding dirt bikes since he was 12. When he was 19 he bought a 1970 BSA Lightning motorcycle and, in 1975, switched to Harley Davidson, which he has been riding since. Today, he owns five motorcycles and his wife Melody owns one.
And what drives this interest of his?
“Freedom,” he said. “I get on my motorcycle and my head’s sort of tangled up, and I get it untangled.”
Deter said, for the past 32 years, he’s spearheaded a Motorcycle Swap Meet, where riders from near and as far as Florida and Connecticut gather to swap parts, sell bikes and other items like leather goods or t-shirts, and show off their current rides.
“It’s been very successful,” Deter said. “I enjoy it because I see my friends and it’s like a large family reunion.”
He said attendance ranges from 500 or 1300 each year. This year’s event is on Feb. 2 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the county fairgrounds. The cost to attend is $30 for vendors or $6 for general admission. Tickets for both can be purchased at the gate, and proceeds from ticket sales benefit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and American Cancer Society.
Since he always hosts it on the first Sunday in February, Deter said the weather is quite variable.
“I’ve had good years, I’ve had years when it’s rained,” he said. “Even when it’s 32 degrees or colder, I still have some guys that set up, I call them my eskimos.”
Deter said some vendors have been with him for all 32 years.
“I’ve met a lot of lifelong friends through that swap meet,” he said.
His motivation for starting this event was simple: “I went to other swap meets and I thought of doing one myself,” he said.
So he brought the option to motorcycle and dirt bike enthusiasts in the area, noting the reason he’s been able to persist for over three decades is his family and friends, who help him set up and tear down for each event, hand out flyers and work through each year’s event.
“Without them I’d be lost,” Deter said of his loved ones.
Again, this year’s Motorcycle Swap Meet is Feb. 2 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the county fairgrounds. For more information, contact Bobby Deter at 724-883-2460.