DOVER -- Past participants tell Deb Boyd that they always look forward to the annual Deerfield Valley Food Pantry Motorcycle Ride.
The ride itself is designed by one of her family members and covers 100 miles. While most riders navigate the route themselves, maps are handed out during registration.
"They can ride together and in groups," said Boyd, who organizes the event and is a food pantry board member. "They can stop whenever they want. We just encourage them to be back for the after party."
Registration for the event begins at the Valley View Saloon at 9 a.m. on Aug. 23 and closes at 10:30 a.m. It costs $20 for those who register beforehand by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org and $25 for participants who register the day of the event.
Participants receive a T-shirt and barbecue meal. The cost of registration is considered a donation and all donations will benefit the food pantry.
There will be blessing of the bikes in the Saloon parking lot at 10 a.m. The after party will be held from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Saloon, which is located on Route 100 in West Dover. A silent auction will put five different prize packages up for grabs. Each package is worth approximately $200 to $250.
Vendors will be set up all day and will include ZigZag Sewing, Pipewrench Motorcycle Trailers and Accessories, Crowley Cheese, Tana Rotola Jewelry and Boxer Rescue Vermont.
This will mark the fourth year of the event. Last year brought in 73 participants, who were not all motorcycle riders.
"The first year, we had 10," Boyd said. "But it was the day before (Tropical Storm) Irene. I was really excited we had 10."
According to Boyd, the event grows each year and began as an idea she developed into a fundraiser.
"I thought it would be cool to get local riders together to meet each other and develop camaraderie," she said. "I also thought, if we're going to do it, why don't we try and raise money for the food pantry."
Saloon proprietor Adam Levine assisted from the beginning by offering up the restaurant and bar as a place where people could congregate before and after the ride. Boyd said Levine also made sure food was ready for the after party, where tasty barbecue food has become part of the tradition.
This year's ride will take participants to Grafton through Saxtons River and Bellows Falls then back through Dummerston to Dover.
"It's open to everybody," said Boyd. "You don't have to ride a motorcycle. You can come to the after party or stop in to visit the vendors."
The motorcycle ride raised approximately $2,500 for the pantry last year.
According to Boyd, the food pantry's client base increases. In July, over 100 families were served. That means over 300 people received food from the pantry located at 7 Church St. in Wilmington.
The food pantry holds two distribution days each month, where families can get a week's worth of groceries, including fresh fruits, produce, meat and eggs.
"We buy all of that locally," Boyd said, noting there are at least 25 volunteers involved in providing different services at the pantry.
Approximately 10 people serve on the pantry board. Then there are volunteers or "shelving elves" who get the materials onto the shelves. Others arrive to meet the delivery truck or assist with packing boxes for those who cannot make it there.
The pantry's set up is similar to that of a grocery store, Boyd told the Reformer. People arrive and register then a personal shopper will go around with them to assist with getting what they need.
"It's pretty labor intensive on distribution days, which are twice a month," she added.
Those days are scheduled for the third Saturday of every month from 9 to 11 a.m. then the Thursday afterwards from 1 to 3 p.m. It does not always fall on the third Thursday of the month.
Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or email@example.com. Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.