SARASOTA (WWSB) - One of the biggest events of the year on the Suncoast is revving up for its opening party Friday night.
The 21st annual Thunder by the Bay is back for the second year at the Sarasota County Fairgrounds. Organizers for the event say though it isn’t the bay, the fairgrounds makes sense because the event has gotten bigger throughout the years, outgrowing downtown, and a bigger venue was needed.
“Just the experience. It’s the entertainment, it’s the brotherhood. Everyone comes together no matter what patch you wear,” according to event organizer Luck Nicandri, it’s exactly what she expected.
“It’s grown into something that is now that is one of the top 10 motorcycle festivals in the state of Florida.”
Last year the event garnered more than $7-million in area economic impact and attracted more than 35,000 people, including local resident Allen Krager, whose attended the event for the past 10 years, though he preferred the event downtown.
“The draw is the intimacy of being downtown having all the stores, restaurants, bars to be able to socialize.” But despite the move from downtown Sarasota two years ago, Nicandri says the change is what was needed.
“Over 10 bands throughout the weekend. We have FMX and BMX stunt riders that will be doing their displays in front of the stage. We also have over 130 vendors here this year which is a big increase for us.” And Nicandri points to the fairgrounds at possibly being home for a long time.
“They have been great community partners with us to afford us a home that people can come to, offer us a lot of parking. There’s an indoor and outdoor facility here so it really lends itself to be the perfect venue for the music and motorcycle festival.”
This event is not all about motorcycles and having fun. All proceeds benefit Suncoast Charities for Children, which provides grants to support local children and adults with special needs.
The festival goes until 6pm Sunday night.