We are dedicating this, the 15th Bean Blossom BikerFest, to our Founder and Mentor, Michael “Balls” Farabaugh, who left us in March.
Michael “Balls” Farabaugh, along with his wife Debby, was the founder of Bean Blossom BikerFest. He had a vision of bringing the motorcycle party “back to Bean Blossom.” So…the Bean Blossom BikerFest was born 15 years ago in 2002.
Over the years, Balls has been a driving force in the motorcycle rights arena. He began in the early seventies when government was attempting to regulate the ever-popular choppers with their ape hanger handle bars, stretched forks and loud pipes. If you have ever heard Balls tell the story about Freedom Fighters gathering on the lawn of the Statehouse burning their helmets, you will never forget it! His fight for motorcycle rights continued throughout the years. He was involved in organizing ABATE of Indiana and was the Executive Director from 1978 to 1990. He founded the national “Meeting of the Minds” from which emerged a National Steering Committee and the Motorcycle Riders Foundation.
Under his guidance, the MRF managed to garner enough support from national bike organizations to hire the first full-time lobbyist in Washington, DC to push for positive legislation for motorcycles and riders. Michael has also helped train thousands of new riders through his work as a chief instructor for the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. He and Debby started a motorcycle riding school and Michael was awarded the John E. Harley Award, the top achievement in the M.S. F.
In addition to his considerable contributions to motorcycling rights and safety, Michael is also a master photojournalist, whose work has appeared in numerous motorcycle and general interest publications. His award winning photos have been featured in galleries, books, calendars, posters, brochures and as an accompaniment to the many motorcycle magazine articles he has published.
Michael was also a giver. He was a pioneer in directing motorcyclist’s contributions to charity through riding events. He founded and was the Chairman of the Miracle Ride Foundation and coordinated events that have donated millions of dollars to the Paraplegic Foundation and Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis. Additionally, he has been instrumental in organizing many local fundraisers involving motorcyclist to assist those in need.
Michael’s awards are surely too numerous to mention here. Most recently, he was awarded the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame 2017 Freedom Fighter Award.
If you ride a motorcycle, you have no doubt been influenced in some way by Michael “Balls” Farabaugh. If you took a Rider Safety course, make a choice whether or not to wear a helmet, participate in a charity ride, enjoy the thousands of photographs he has taken, or attend any number of motorcycle related events, you can know that Balls had his hand in all of these motorcycle related events, and more.
We will miss him. We will always remember him when we are doing what we love on a motorcycle. We will always remember his rough and gruff exterior that covered a giant giving heart whose passion for motorcycling transcended decades and will continue to influence our biker community for decades to come.
Thank you Balls, for paving the way for the rest of us. We will do our best to keep up the fight in your honor.
The Bean Blossom BikerFest Family