Before COVID-19 shook the world back in March of last year, I had spent the past 15 years of my life traveling for business, at least one week per month. The majority of this time on the road was spent at Technology industry events and conferences. That all changed last year when I found myself, along with much of the world, huddled indoors for 14 months straight. I didn’t have much hope for the resurrection of trade shows, or any large gatherings for that matter, with the pandemic continuing to wreak havoc on society, long after we expected to return to “normal.” When the One Moto Show in Portland, Oregon announced it was still happening as planned in May, I was beyond excited and readied myself in anticipation.
This was my first time at One Moto, and also my first trade show with Tilting Motor Works. In its 12 years of annual shows, One Moto has definitely become the premier event of its kind, boasting over 200 custom motorcycles, 150 bike builders, 50 artists, 80 vendors, six bands, and 60,000 attendees. This year’s event was at The Zidell Barge Building in Portland, an old ship manufacturing facility on the Willamette River. Surrounded by chic apartments, restaurants, and the Southwaterfront OHSU Campus, the run-down facility stands out like a sore thumb. Concrete, iron, and steel all weathered and deserted, which I would find out later, perfectly complement the vibe of One Moto.
While getting our booth set up under a decrepit iron crane and polishing up the bikes, it became very clear that this is not your typical motorcycle show, but rather a gathering of creative characters, artists, builders, and authentic motorcycle culture enthusiasts. The event space included a massive 30,000 square foot open indoor area large enough to house a tanker ship and bustled with a mix of vendors, custom motorcycles, art, and music. The outdoor area similarly boasted 33,000 square feet of space, lively with food carts, beer gardens, vendors, and shows.
The whole event still felt so surreal, and even when Friday rolled around, l couldn’t believe I’d be attending a trade show that same afternoon! Despite my disbelief, the doors did indeed bust open with gleeful visitors on Friday at 3:30 pm and remained open for the rest of the weekend. We welcomed a steady stream of joyous, masked-up people who got to check out a few of our show bikes and even test drive the Arcimoto FUV! The organizers of the One Moto Show did a brilliant job of selling a limited number of tickets for time slots throughout the day. This allowed them to admit everyone who wanted to attend, while also following all COVID safety measures and protocols.
Come Sunday evening the team and I were socially exhausted, though satisfied and fulfilled by the experience. It was apparent that One Moto was exactly what so many people needed, both visitors and vendors. I am incredibly thankful for all the laughs shared with the team, for all of the amazing people I got to meet, for the creative recharge the event provided, and most importantly for being a part of something with other humans once again!