With the end of the annual Ride to Skate event in Philadelphia a few years back, the locals longed for an event to not necessarily take its place, but something that could pull everyone together again. During that time, there were always rumblings of either someone taking over RtS, or planning a worthy replacement. Josh McCullough, his wife Cortney, and buds Adam DiDomenico and the late Bryan Dilworth, came together to plan something more involved than other shows in the area. That event was the Independents Car & Bike Show. The three day event consisted of a pre-party/photo show at Josh’s Garage bar, the full day car & bike show on Saturday, and a charity ride/cruise benefitting the Semper Fi Fund on Sunday.
Working hard with a number of friends, the group promoted the show on social media, posters around town, in bars and coffee shops, as well as a couple of swap meets. Credit for the rad artwork and design goes to Josh’s buddy Ralph Stollenwerk, he is Josh’s go-to for artwork and design. All of the printing was done by Awesome Dudes Printing. Ralph owns the print shop with another good friend Shaky.
To get started, the group needed a location. Bryan was heavily involved in Philadelphia’s live music scene. At one point he owned part of the well-known venue Electric Factory, now called Franklin Music Hall, and was instrumental in promoting events all around the city. During the planning stage, Josh brought up possible venues, and Bryan suggested Franklin. He had the ability to easily book the hall and could utilize the staff there to run the bar, work the sound for the bands, etc. It became the perfect solution. The fact that it was located in Center City Philadelphia made it even better. Not only was Josh’s Garage bar located there, but it is centrally located to many areas that have a strong interest in vintage cars and bikes. The next thing they had to figure out was the date. Memorial Day weekend seemed like a good time, since the weather is usually great in the North East and everyone gets an extra day to travel or rest before going back to work. Now that they had two important parts of the event set, they got to focus on the good parts.
Josh has been in the restaurant business his whole life, so in some ways he’s been hosting a party every night for the past 20 plus years. Getting to throw a big car and bike themed party without the constraints of a restaurant or bar was fun…it was a full weekend of hosting parties! The most challenging part was that he and his wife ended up taking on a restaurant project just a few months before. It opened exactly four weeks before the show. He ended up working 100+ hours a week through April and May. Keeping both projects on track was definitely the most challenging part of the event.
In addition to the charity ride/cruise on Sunday, there was also the giveaway car program. The group gave a 1953 Ford to the kids at the Automotive Technology Program at Delaware County Intermediate Unit and let them have at it. They got it all together and in driving shape. Ideally, Josh would like to grow that program to a place where the entire car can be built at the school. Josh explains, “As a vocational auto body student in high school, I would have loved a cool project to work on. After a while, pulling shopping cart dents out of minivans and doing oil changes gets boring and really lacks inspiration.” Josh and the group had been planning the 2020 show before Bryan passed away in March. They had made some changes and some fun things planned. The goal was to slowly build it into a full weekend of live music, cars, bikes, great food and drinks. So many people love all of those things equally, but it’s rare to find them in one place. Sort of a state fair vibe, but with bikes and cars instead of livestock. With the passing of Bryan and everything that is going on right now, the group has decided to cancel the event this year. At this point, he’s not sure which direction they will be going for 2021.
Josh would like to thank everyone that participated in the Independents Show. Specifically, his wife for putting up with his crazy ideas, and then showing up in a huge way every damn time. She’s a saint and the best wife and mother a guy could ask for. For more information, give these a follow… www.independentsshow.com / @independentsshow, www.garagephilly.com, and www.barphiladelphia.com.
Article and photographs by Daniel N. Venditto / @dv8sport / www.dv8sport.com
View Daniel's Ride To Skate 10 coverage here.