Heavy Rebels take over the weekend in Winston-Salem

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Tim Gange', of the Spastiks Band, of Brooklyn NY, poses for friends during the Heavy Rebel Weekender car show along the Trade Street leg in Winston-Salem, N.C., Saturday Jul. 5, 2014. (Bruce Chapman/Journal)

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Some free tips on mud wrestling from Tamika Whittington, who said she was embarrassed the first time she tried it three years ago, according to the Winston-Salem Journal:

Leave the jewelry at home and don’t wear anything white.

“I lost quite a bit of jewelry, but it was worth it when I got the pictures back,” she said as she dripped onto the sidewalk back of the Millennium Center. “Make sure you don’t wear white clothes because I still have some clothes in the closet that I can’t get the mud out of.”

Whittington and her friends were among thousands who turned out for the 14th version of an annual festival that brought hundreds of custom cars and lots of rockabilly to the streets of the Downtown Arts District.

“It’s just the one time of year when everyone can come down and have a good time,” Whittington said, pretty much summing up the mood on the streets.

The weekend events included performances by dozens of bands, burlesque shows, various contests and vendors selling all kinds of stuff. While the Millennium Center is the center of the festival, the car show on Saturday spilled out into all the adjoining streets.

Performances and other events continue today at the Millennium Center, with tickets available at the door for $40. For a schedule of events, visit

Caleb Williams, a local, said putting together his own three-wheeler was only part of the fun.

“It is about having fun seeing things you don’t ordinarily see,” Williams said. “I was telling my wife how we have come here for all these years and we have not seen one fight. For some people, it is a lifestyle. A lot of these people live and breathe this stuff.”

Making his very first visit to Heavy Rebel Weekender was Kevin Leverett, originally from Detroit but now living in Winston-Salem. He has a Honda 750 Super Sport motorcycle that he was thinking of selling, but looking over the cars and bikes on Saturday, he decided he might hold on to his motorcycle after all.

“I’ve been a car enthusiast all my life,” he said as he made his way down Trade Street looking at the custom cars. “It is a great show. People are very open. I really like the creativity in every car.”

Knoxville resident Nathan Hill was there to add to the creativity part. As a “tattooer, pinstriper, artist and sign painter,” he said, he was making some extra money adding decorations to some of the custom cars.

Hill has a booth at the festival and gets references from social media as well.

“One guy found me through Facebook – he said I like your work and saw your stuff on Facebook,” Hill said. One job quickly turns into another as people see what he’s doing, he said.

“It is like being the first person on the dance floor,” he said. “Someone sees you dance, and everybody joins in.”

Hill said decorating cars is like decorating your body with a tattoo:

“It is the desire to have your inside match your outside,” he said. “I want people to be able to look at my car or at me and know that this is what I’m about.”

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