MOKANE, Mo. - Heat and high water couldn't keep motorcycle and classic car enthusiasts, frog leg connoisseurs and supporters of U.S. troops from turning out in droves for the eighth annual Frogs and Hogs Festival.
The Amvets and Sons of Amvets Post No. 153's annual motorcycle rally and benefit drive saw more than 400 riders and visitors at its kickoff Friday, with an even larger crowd beginning to form under the Amvets pavilion even before heavy rainfalls tapered off late Saturday morning.
"Last night had a very good turnout for as hot as it was, and today will be even bigger," event organizer and Sons of Amvets commander Billy Spencer said Saturday morning from the Amvets deck overlooking the crowd and bike show.
Spencer helped start the event eight years ago after Post 153 had grown enough to begin seeking other ways to support veterans in central Missouri. He said they eventually came up with Frogs and Hogs because "lots of motorcycle riders really support the troops."
In addition to the bike show, Frogs and Hogs also featured the return of last year's classic car show, vendors, music and other events throughout the weekend. Amvets served up about 450 pounds of frog legs and plenty of pulled pork, hamburgers, hot dogs and sides.
All proceeds from the event - including sales on food and drink, shirts and raffles for liquor and riding gear packages - go towards various veterans' support causes. Bartenders worked for tips, volunteering their time for the cause.
Post 153 has adopted the Mexico Veterans Home, provides utility assistance for former servicemen and women in need, and supports homeless veterans' charities.
"We split it up all over, we want all our proceeds to go towards veterans. The membership we have are either veterans or have past family members who were veterans, so this hits home for us. If you have family or were a veteran, you really know what's going on," Spencer said.
One patron was Steve Bumgarner, originally from Oklahoma. A Callaway Energy Center employee, Bumgarner rode his chrome Harley-Davidson Screamin' Eagle Fat Boy out for a good time.
"I enjoy it," he said. "It's a lot of good folks, good barbecue and you can meet a few people."