Chelsea Area Historical Society to host first annual ‘Flanders Fest’





By: Seth Kinker, skinker@thesuntimesnews.com 

On Aug. 4 the Chelsea Area Historical Society will be hosting the first annual ‘Flanders Fest’ to remember Art Farley and Elliot Andrews and their roles in helping return a rare 1911 Flanders 4 motorcycle to Chelsea.

Flanders motorcycles used to be built in the old Chelsea clocktower and Rockwell building from 1911 to 1914 before production left for Pontiac and eventually stopped.

“There’s probably only about two dozen in operating condition,” said Bill O’Reilly, President of the CAHS. “The one we have was found by Elliot Andrews in a museum in California in January of 2017.”



Money was raised locally to bring it back to Chelsea, its first home, and it’s now being kept in the CAHS museum which, ironically, sits in the shadow of where Flanders motorcycles used to be produced.

Art Farley, a Chelsea native and longtime resident, used to have a motorcycle shop where the current Bumbles store is located. He was a national champion in vintage motorcycle racing according to O’Reilly, well known in motor cycling circles.

Upon the Flanders motorcycles’ return to Chelsea, a team worked to restore it and on July 26, 2017, for the first time in decades, it ran. Farley rode it up and down Jackson street in front of the depot and CAHS museum.

“It was being ridden again for the first time right in the view of the buildings where it was made,” said O’Reilly.

Andrews led the team in restoring the motorcycle but unfortunately passed away three weeks after it ran. Farley passed away a few months after that but O’Reilly said both were able to see the dream come true.

To that end, it was decided to host the first, of hopefully many, Flanders Fests.

At 10 a.m. on Aug. 4, a memorial ride will kick off the fest. Farley’s widow, Lynn Ryskowski Farley, will be taking attendees on rides and at noon a food truck and activities will be at the depot and historical museum.

“Hopefully a lot of vintage bikes will be there as well,” said O’Reilly. “We’re encouraging people to bring their old bikes. We’ll have music playing and it should be going all afternoon.”

Because of word spreading about the event, William Flanders Spencer, the grandson of Walter Flanders, the producer of the motorcycles, reached out to the CAHS about the event. He’s got many parts and memorabilia that will be at the Flanders Fest and O’Reilly said he was hopeful Spencer would be there himself.





Seth Kinker

Reporter/Digital Media for The Sun Times News

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