How the Festival Came To Be

In January 2014, after the end of her first riding season, Suzanne Jolly, a Squamish local, spent 10 days riding solo in Nicaragua. So many people discouraged her from taking the trip, saying it was too dangerous to go as a woman, and yet the trip was an amazing time– one that forever changed her for the better.  At the end of 3 weeks travelling solo in Nicaragua, including 10 days riding a rented Yamaha 125, she made the decision to start the Squamish Motorcycle Festival when she returned because she wanted a world which encouraged people to take adventures, to explore and to ride bikes more often.

Slowly, Suzanne met other local riders who supported the idea.  One night over tacos and beer, she met Jamieson McKay Murray, who mirrored her enthusiasm for riding and had years of experience and connections in the industry and subsequently became the Vice-President.  One day, she met Brian Coombs, who had a love for vintage bikes and knew collectors all over the Lower Mainland. Brian came on board to help out.  Another time, she met Juliane Knoll and Pete Auld from the Squamish Dirt Bike Association, who came on board to help get things up and running. These people helped Suzanne’s dream come to be: they raised money, they volunteered hours, they gave great recommendations, they sold tickets, they got the help of others.  There’s many people who came to help create the festival in its first year, such as Steve Wheeler from No Limits donating the first $500 to help us book a venue for the festival or Jack Welch who sold so many tickets to our evening event to help us break even that first year.  Many people were rather skeptical of this new rider who wanted to launch a festival, and rightly so! Suzanne would never have gotten the fest off the ground without the amazing support of friends, volunteers and sponsors.

 Year One: 2014

The rule was: the festival would continue if we broke even. So the fact that we broke even an raised almost $1000 for the Squamish Food Bank (and a van-full of food), had approximately 1000 attendees and the engagement of a lot of local businesses and vendors was astounding.   The highlights of our first year were:

  • The Van City Stunters who volunteered to put on a show on Cleveland Avenue. There’s rubber still on Cleveland from some of their amazing stunts!
  • The Show & Shine: so many collectors opened their secret garages and brought out amazing rare bikes. The variety of bikes in the Show & Shine also was so exciting.
  • The evening’s speakers featured stories of riding all over the world.

None of this could have been possible without the support of an amazing team of volunteers, as well as the support of our sponsors, including:

Squamish Dirt Bike Association
No Limits Motorsports
Chances Squamish and Matches Eatery & Public House
JB Photography
Galileo Coffee
Howe Sound Brewing
Vancity Stunters

Prize Sponsors
EagleRider Vancouver
Diamond Head Yamaha
Mags 99
On The Pipe Performance
Spice Root Kitchen & Bar
Sea to Sky Gondola
Watershed Grill

Year Two: 2015

Highlights for our second year included so many people visiting that we ran out of parking!  Starting off on a Friday night with the awesome stories from Dakar rider, Don Hatton was a great way to start our second year. Van City Stunters were back again for two shows with huge audiences, and the Show & Shine ran out of space.  We had over 20 vendors at the Festival coming from Vancouver Island, Whistler, and all over the Lower Mainland. Vancouver BMW Ducati’s Outdoor screening of “Why We Ride” was a special highlight on Saturday night. Dirt bike and dual sport rides hosted by the Squamish Dirt Bike Association (in partnership with the Black Tusk Snowmobile Club), along with a street ride to Mt. Curry all were great ways to wrap up the Festival’s second year (and we were surprised by how many riders we had come out!).

We couldn’t have done it without our amazing sponsors:

District of Squamish
Vancouver BMW Ducati
Hatton Insurance
Fergies Cafe
Squamish Dirt Bike Association
Test of Metal
Trev Deely Motorcycles
Lords of Gastown
JB Photography

Prize Sponsors

Crabapple Cafe
EagleRider Vancouver
Moto Concept
Off-Road Skills Canada
Sea to Sky Gondola

We look forward to meeting and sharing Squamish with those of you who are visiting during our third festival.