The Second Half: Bikers beating breast cancer: Breast Fest 2011

By Kathleen D. Tresemer

Heads up for the third annual Breast Fest Biker Bash, an amazing local fund-raiser hosted by Pecatonica-based Iron Skulls Motorcycle Association. The event takes place next weekend, July 22-23, at the Winnebago County Fairgrounds in Pecatonica.

Breast Fest supports breast cancer research. The Iron Skulls caution you, however: this Biker Bash is an “adults-only” event. You must be 21 or older to enter and be prepared to show ID. They carded me last year, and I don’t even remember being younger than 21! That being said, this is a rockin’ good time, whether you own a motorcycle or not.

Andi Sherman, the lovely Iron Skulls public relations officer, talks about improvements to the event: “We’ve expanded — there will be two stages in two separate buildings at the fairgrounds this year, one for rock and one for country music. We are excited to offer a premier adult comic, Bag Lady Sue, slated for both Friday and Saturday night entertainment. And admission to the MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fights is included in the Breast Fest ticket — that’s a great deal!”

Here’s what I learned about Bag Lady Sue: Suzanne Austin, as the lovable character Bag Lady Sue, has become one of the most requested performers and top draws at clubs, concerts and motorcycle rallies across the U.S. As an internationally-known stand-up comedienne, her performance is more like a Vegas burlesque review than a typical stand-up show. Austin’s website declares: if Sam Kinison and Dr. Ruth spawned, she might be the result! Learn more at

One of the acts to grace Breast Fest’s new Country Music Stage is the Penny Mae Dixon Band. Based out of northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin, the PMD band has exploded onto the scene with their song “The Dirt Sleddin’ Digger.” Tractor-pull fans across the country and Europe have shown their support for the tune that has become the sport’s unofficial theme song. Penny Mae Dixon and her band have experienced tremendous success performing at regional and national music festivals, including Milwaukee’s Summerfest. This will be an explosive show you don’t want to miss.

The schedule of main events is as follows:

Friday July 22

5:30 p.m. — Pole Chicks pole-dancing exhibition

7 p.m. — Patchwork, Knucklehead Stage

9 p.m. — Bag Lady Sue, Knucklehead Stage

11 p.m. — Shuvlhead, Knucklehead Stage

Saturday, July 23

Noon — Arm Wrestling

1 p.m. — Brian Lavender, Knucklehead Stage

1 p.m. — Bike Games

2 p.m. — Bike Show

3 p.m. — Penny Mae Dixon, Panhead Stage

4 p.m. — Stunt Bike Show

6 p.m. — MMA Fights, admission included with Breast Fest ticket

7 p.m. — Kickstand, Knucklehead Stage

9 p.m. — Bag Lady Sue, Knucklehead Stage

9 p.m. — Rolling Whiskey, Panhead Stage

11 a.m. — Cylinder 6, Knucklehead Stage

ALSO — Pole Dancing and Best Breast competitions

The event organizers are also offering exclusive MMA Fight tables of 10, available for $500.

As I mentioned, Breast Fest is a fund-raiser with proceeds going to the Save the Ta-Tas Foundation. Save the Ta-Tas is a private, not-for-profit foundation supporting breakthrough cancer research. Their fund-raising efforts are based on a philosophy that laughter heals, and they target a younger demographic in their efforts.

Save the Ta-Tas partners with The Concern Foundation, another unusual organization with roughly 95 cents of every $1 they raise going toward research. These are astonishing numbers in today’s economic climate, and an organization worthy of mention.

As in the past, there have been a series of precursor events leading up to this year’s Breast Fest. Area bars are co-sponsoring poker runs and girls’ competitions, with extensive air time by local radio station and sponsor of the event, 96.7 The Eagle. These remote broadcasts give I.S.M.A. a head start in meeting their fund-raising goal.

Last year’s attendance at Breast Fest was just below 1,500; this year, the I.S.M.A. attendance goal is 3,000. The objective is to raise $5,000 for Save the Ta-Tas, as well as offer financial support to an organization member who has had a double mastectomy.

Many I.S.M.A. members — men and women alike — have moms, sisters, wives, daughters and friends who have fought breast cancer. The mother of the Association president is a breast cancer survivor and supporter of Breast Fest.

“Just like last year, we have free camping on site, lots of bands, games and a bike show, stunt bikes, the pole dancing and best breast competitions, and a wide variety of vendors,” Sherman says. “We know it will be an exciting weekend!”

The Iron Skulls is a nonprofit organization dedicated to fund-raising. This year, they offer events benefiting the likes of RAMP, the Kidney Foundation, Alzheimer’s research, Autism, Special Olympics and the Humane Society. Visit the I.S.M.A. website at for more information.

In her second half of life, Kathleen D. Tresemer is both a journalist and an award-winning fiction writer. She lives with her husband on a small ranch in rural Shirland, Ill. Kathleen can be contacted by e-mail at

From the July 20-26, 2011 issue

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