February 19, 2020
Paul Teutul Jr. at Springfield Motorcycle Show

Eastern States Exposition Bans Colors From Springfield Show

WEST SPRINGFIELD, MA – With only two weeks until the Springfield Motorcycle Show, a new “no colors” policy being mandated by the Eastern States Exposition is putting the future of the long-running winter attraction in jeopardy. 

This year’s show is set for Jan. 18 and 19, but promoter Doug Sousa said this evening that it may be the last because of the sudden policy edict that prohibits the wearing of colors as well as the selling of club and gang related materials.

Sousa’s Outdoor Sports Expo Group has rented an exhibit hall and staged the annual show for the past 14 years.

Doug Sousa

Sousa said he was blindsided by the new policy a couple of weeks ago. However, it wasn’t until Friday morning that the Eastern State Exposition provided him with detailed language of the policy.

“We respectfully prohibit the wearing of colors or the selling of club and gang affiliated paraphernalia on our grounds. We humbly ask for your cooperation and support of our private property policies,” stated the message from the Eastern States Exposition.

Sousa said his landlord’s goal is to keep out outlaw motorcycle clubs, but noted his family friendly show has always been trouble-free. “They’re trying to solve a problem that doesn’t exist,” he said.

Not only will the policy prevent attendees from wearing clothing, primarily leather vests, that bear the markings of such nefarious clubs as Hells Angels, it also applies to such clubs as the Jarheads (made up of U.S. Marines), the Christian Motorcyclists Association, the Blue Knights (made up of law enforcement officers) and even H.O.G. chapters.

“They’re painting everyone with this broad brush,” said Sousa.

2019 Springfield Motorcycle Show

In an attempt to get the word out, Sousa posted a notice on the new policy on the Springfield Motorcycle Show’s Facebook page on Friday afternoon. He got immediate blowback and removed it within a few hours after it was misinterpreted that the policy was his doing and people began threatening to boycott this year’s show.

“It’s blown up in a lot of different areas,” he said.

Sousa refrained from getting into more detail about the situation because he also promotes the Springfield Sportsmen’s Show in February at the Eastern State Exposition, which has run for 37 years. That show is his company’s major revenue producer, while the motorcycle show doesn’t always make money. “We have lost more money than we have made over the years,” he said of the motorcycle show.

 He did question the need for the “no colors” mandate given the motorcycle show’s track record and the fact it appeals to a broad cross-section of riders, and he projected it could have a negative impact on attendance. “This is our life and this is our living,” he said. 

2019 Springfield Motorcycle Show

Sousa said the Eastern States Exposition plans signage warning of the “no colors” policy. He reported that several motorcycle clubs have signed up for display space at this year’s show, including the Christian Motorcyclists Association, B.A.C.A. (Bikers Against Child Abuse) and some veterans groups.

Asked what he will do if members of those clubs show up at the show’s entrance wearing colors, Sousa replied, “I’m not going to do anything. It’s not my job.”

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Since 2010, RIDE-CT & RIDE-NewEngland has been reporting about motorcycling in New England and portions of New York.

10 comments

  1. This is discrimination. What’s next? No political clothing like M.A.G.A. hats? Or no Pro-Gun, Pro 2A, no Don’t Tread on Me clothing?

    I’ve gone plenty of times and not one single issue. This usually happens when Law Enforcement advises them of an imaginary threat and how everyone safety is at risk and their job is substantially harder to protect everyone.

    Usually, if the Establishment owner doesn’t concede then L.E. indirectly comments about their sustainabllity in the business community because they allow or even Support these activities.

    Maybe Doug isn’t at fault but let’s see him choose another venue and let’s all Boycott the The Big E.

  2. Scott 'Shorty" longvall

    no one is more angry about this than I am but I remind all that if we boycott the show, we’re not hurting Eastern States, we’re just hurting Doug Sousa, who had nothing to do with this and is the guy who has been putting on this show for us all these years. if you want to have this show next year, hopefully someplace that wants us there, it’s gonna be Doug who makes that happen. I’ll be there in a Gd Dam tuxedo if I have to but you better believe I will never attend any other function hosted by the Eastern States exposition. you want to boycott someone, they’re the folks!

  3. William J Philbrick

    I have been going to this show for quite a few years now. As a legion rider And a Vet I wear my Vest with pride as other groups do. If this is the policy that the Big E has come up with, then I will not be going to this show until this policy is rescinded. Also If My wearing of my Vest is threatening to anyone at this event then I will Assume that It would be the same at any event held at the Big E therefore I will no longer participate in Riding my Motorcycle on the BIG E Veterans Day Parade they have.

  4. Boycott period!!!!

  5. If this stays as a new policy I will take my attendance, my purchases, my interests else where. I have attended this event every year since it’s start, and have never witnessed an issue or concerns for various individuals of different views and club affiliations. In fact I’ve witnessed nothing but comradery over a love and respect for our two wheeled friends. This new decision made on the outside and not connected to any dangerous events currently or historically has no rationale for being made. This could have a major impact on the health and continuation of this event, and my future attendance and support.

  6. This is a knee jurk reaction to all the fights and shootings and fights occuring thru out our country. Its almost feel like a nom, as it concurs to frequent. Due to the recent comment from the promoter, Doing nothing if clubs do decide to attend wearing their colors. That the venue hire extra security at their cost. Of course they could reverse the color and selling of club merchandise and enforce a no weapon policy.

  7. We are having our Tattoo convention in April (Papillon Tattoo Convention) and we were just called in for a meeting telling us the same and the no sale of CBD products! Hoping they will reconsider and return to the old policy as we have not had any problems and our first convention was a hit with the artists and customers. I know the show will go on because it is a tattoo & art show but I can see your concern with the policy & agree with you, most clubs have a code and ethic that they respect each other while at public events! The Big E is a great family friendly facility to have our shows at and we hope this won’t deter anyone from coming and enjoying our shows!

  8. If booth spaces have been sold, and the promoters had a contract for the space prior to this notice, I don’t think they can impose this restriction. It puts the promoters in a compromising position, as they have contracts with vendors who sell club gear.

  9. Colors should be allowed. Bikers have a way of getting along and show alot of pride. Don’t fix something thats not broken and if nothing bad has happened in the past then I say colors allowed at this function. There are many repectable groups that are proud and worked very hard to wear that vest.

  10. What a bunch of bull s—t I’d move the show to a normal place. It’s a peaceful show that’s never had a problem. Now this is a big problem. What are they going to do if a couple hundred hells angels show up at the door. Turn them away?? I’d like to be there to see that! Just my opinion. Bill Heine.

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