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Remember the bikers?
Random Thoughts - August 4
Random Thoughts by Wendell Smith

AVOCA - With the coming of Avoca celebrating its 150-years birthday next month, there will be many opportunities to remember things from the past. A few folks may recall the night a group of out-of-the-area motorcycle riders came into the village causing problems and attracting many law officers.

The incident happened nearly a half-century ago. The front-page headline on the September 27, 1973, Progressive read: “Motorcycle Gang Invades Avoca.” The story followed with: There were some tense moments Friday night when a tough-looking group of motorcyclists came into the village of Avoca and were confronted by officers from four counties and village police.”

Vern Adams was the local lawman. He had received the word that there was a problem in a local tavern. He had been warned a group had caused problems in Lone Rock, Spring Green and Plain establishments before heading west. Officers from Iowa, Grant, Richland and Sauk Counties were soon on the scene.

Riders carried weapons, such as pistols, shotguns, one bow and arrow, and links of chain. The gang carried a dead raccoon into the Avoca tavern and skinned it there, strewing blood about. They also went to the salad bar, helped themselves and threw a lot of the food on the floor and against a wall. They took the intestines from the raccoon and put them in the hair of a couple of women who were travelling with them.

When officers arrived the gang was handcuffed and searched and weapons confiscated. The weapons were returned when the riders were escorted out of the village at 12:15. No arrests were made as weapons were not concealed. No complaints were signed by the tavern owner, who was reportedly told, “There are 14 of us here this time, but if you sign a complaint there will be 114 us of next time.”

An Iowa county officer said the cycle riders apparently were from the Madison and Milwaukee areas. The group rode into town on 12 motorcycles, with 18 passengers. Officers numbered about 25 and had all roads in and out of Avoca blocked off for a time.