Ahead of the 22nd annual Thunder in the Valley motorcycle rally, two events have announced changes to past traditions in consideration of volunteer availability and rainy forecasts the past few years.
Thunderbash, which marked its 19th year at Greenhouse Park in Tire Hill last year, will not take place as part of this year’s events.
However, its sponsor, Alliance of Bikers Aimed Toward Education (ABATE), still plans to partner with the Johnstown/Cambria County Convention & Visitors Bureau and participate in events in downtown Johnstown.
For example, ABATE will still host both of its guided rides out to Flight 93 National Memorial during this year’s rally, but will depart from a location to be determined within downtown Johnstown instead, said Jayne Korenoski, director of special events entertainment for the CVB.
The main concern leading ABATE leaders to discontinue the event, which offered merchandise, games, live music and food vendors to those 21 years of age and older, was a lack of volunteers, Korenoski said.
The past few years of rainy weather have also affected Thunderbash, which typically begins the same day as the rally. The event’s location at Greenhouse Park, where many visitors could also stay at tent campsites, often became soggy quickly.
“The weather just killed them,” Korenoski said.
“The weather has hurt all of us.”
After 12 years, Richland Township Volunteer Fire Department will discontinue its annual Richland Bike Bash to begin a new tradition: a summer concert series.
The bike bash, which was a precursor event to Thunder in the Valley, included music, food vendors and beverages at the department’s Scalp Avenue station for more than a decade.
Andi Cveykus, fundraising coordinator for the fire department, cited a similar reason for the change: manpower.
Although Richland Bike Bash did well financially, Cveykus pointed out that the volunteers that keep it running all work full time.
“It’s getting harder to do,” she said.
“We said, ‘Let’s work smarter, not harder.’ It was just time for a change.”
Now, the department is planning the “Station 3 On Stage Summer Concert Series,” which will include four events featuring drinks, mobile food vendors, food trucks and live performances on the Mihalko’s Fire and Water Restoration Stage.
“It’s going to bring people to the pavement once a month all summer,” Cveykus said.
“I feel great about it.”
On May 18, the series theme is “Strengthening the Prohibition” and will feature Even the Odds from 5:30 to 8 p.m., followed by Bastard Bearded Irishmen from 9 p.m. to midnight.
“Backdraft Lot Party” is the theme of the June 19 event, which is the Wednesday prior to Thunder in the Valley, when Richland Bike Bash traditionally kicked off in previous years.
That event will include performances from Undercover from 6 to 8:30 p.m. and Octane from 9:30 p.m. to midnight.
On July 19 and 20, the department will host a “Rock the Weekend” event. On Friday, The Boomers will take the stage from 6 to 8:30 p.m., followed by Inside Out from 9:30 p.m. to midnight. Saturday’s entertainment will include Frick Brothers from noon to 2 p.m., That’s What She Said from 3 to 5 p.m., Stone Bridge from 6 to 8:30 p.m. and Octane from 9:30 p.m. to midnight.
“Oldies All Day” is the theme of the last event of the series, which is scheduled for Aug. 24.
Entertainment for that event will be announced at a later date.
Vendors slated to appear throughout the series include Smoke’em Up BBQ, Flair of Country, Morguen Toole Company, Pappy D’s BBQ, Firehouse Subs, My Girls Deli, The Phoenix Tavern, Grumbling Gypsy, Pappy’s Family Pub & Dixie Smoker, The Original Pie Shoppe, Ruga Rue Beef Jerky, Tall Pines Distillery, Old Towne Distillery and B&L Wine Cellars.
In addition, Inco Beverage will sponsor the department’s Firehouse Pub at each of the events, Cveykus said.
Other interested vendors can reach out to Cveykus at 814-659-8873 for more information and availability.
As plans proceed for Thunder in the Valley, Korenoski said the changes to both events could drive more people to the entertainment, food, shopping and attractions going on throughout downtown Johnstown during the rally.
Securing new sponsorships, finalizing details and other planning is still ongoing, she said.
“We just keep forging ahead with it,” Korenoski said.