In 2010 with his kids grown up and out of the house, Matt Piene relished having more time to ride his motorcycle, but he wanted his riding to matter. A supporter of Jessica Faye’s Closet since it opened in 1999 to honor the memory of his daughter, he began looking for a way to unite his love of biking with his passion for supporting the closet’s mission to provide clothing and household goods to those in need at no cost. Out of these desires, he created the Jessica Piene Memorial Ride and Music Festival, an event to bring people together through motorcycle riding and music to support Jessica Faye’s Closet and the Iowa Organ Donor Network.
Since that time, riders around Muscatine have thrown their support behind the ride and grown it from its humble beginnings to the well-known event people recognize today. Piene recalls the first year of the ride. “We had thirty bikes show up, maybe. We were so poor that we put a semi-trailer down, [for bands to perform on] we threw hay bales down, put plywood on top of it, and by goodness, it worked as a stage for that first year!” From this rough start, Piene has made adjustments to the ride and music festival and tweaked the format to keep improving the event. After experimenting with inviting between four to twelve bands and one and two-day formats, Piene found a single day format with the ride in the morning and six bands in the evening worked best, as it provided many opportunities for fun and fundraising without wearing organizers out.
This year’s ride and music festival takes place on Saturday, September 15th. The event kicks off with registration for the ride at 9:30 am in Riverside Park. Both bikes and cars may register for the event. Regardless of vehicles, the ride costs $10 per person. After a group picture at 10:00 am and a bike blessing by the Pearl City Disciples at 10:15 am, the ride will head east and make two stops, first at Judy’s Barge Inn in Buffalo, Iowa, and then at Ducky’s Lagoon in Taylor Ridge, Illinois. Piene describes the ride as leisurely, and looks forward to, “wandering around the backcountry, [and] taking our time.”
Around 4:45 pm, the ride will return to the Mississippi Brew in Muscatine, just in time to take in the music festival and bike show. Attendees can enjoy music from six bands, including the John Paul Jones Group, Facing Time, Seven Shy, First Impression, Hong Kong Sleepover, and Toxic Blonde. With a blend of new faces, such as the John Paul Jones Group, and old favorites (Seven Shy has performed at every Jessica Piene Memorial Music Festival) you will not want to miss a minute of the night’s more than eight hours of music.
Along with the bands, the music festival will also include a bike show and guitar raffle. For $5.00, any rider can enter a bike in the show and have a chance to win a first, second, or third place prize if their ride is deemed best in show. For any musicians looking for a quality new instrument, guitar raffle tickets cost only $1 apiece or $5 for six and offer a chance to win a brand-new guitar, courtesy of Ritchie Sound and Lights and Music Supply Store.
Whether you commit to the whole day, or attend only the ride or the festival, Piene and the other event organizers look forward to having an excellent turnout this year, and to continuing to use the donations raised to continue Jessica’s legacy of giving. To learn more about the events or Jessica Faye’s Closet, visit:  https://www.pearlcityliferidersrc.com/.