Thunder is roaring back into Johnstown.
The Thunder in the Valley motorcycle rally will be held Thursday through June 27 in downtown Johnstown and the surrounding area. Organizers are excited to bring the event back after having to cancel last year because of COVID-19.
“It feels so good to have everything back,” said Lisa Rager, Visit Johnstown’s executive director.
“This is a festival with motorcycles, but you don’t have to be a motorcycle rider to enjoy everything that happens at Thunder.”
Venue sites include Central Park, the Biker Mall and Peoples Natural Gas Park.
New this year, Peoples Natural Gas Park will be a ticketed venue on Friday and June 26 with a $5 admission at the gate.
“We have moved our main stage into PNG Park, which works well for a musical festival, so we’ll be able to have bands on the main stage and the pavilion stage,” Rager said.
“We will get a wristband, and you can go in and out of the park. If you want to go to Central Park or the Biker Mall, you have privileges for that.”
A premium viewing area ticket is available for $25.
The rally will feature 35 musical acts, ranging from rock to country to blues to oldies.
“We try to get a variety and try to have every type of music,” said Jayne Korenoski, Visit Johnstown’s director of advertising and sales.
“People who are visiting only get to see some of these bands once a year and they’re always excited to hear them.”
Headlining acts include Hairball, Colt Ford, Whey Jennings and Jasmine Cain.
Hairball is a rock ’n’ roll tribute band that is known to turn every show into a big event, performing the music of ’80s acts such as Van Halen, KISS, Queen, Motley Crew, Journey and Aerosmith.
“We had them in 2019 and they were fabulous and people wanted us to bring them back,” Korenoski said.
“They are in full costume and have all the pyrotechnics. It’s a great show and a lot of fun.”
Colt Ford brings a hybrid of country, blues, rock and rap rhythms.
“He’s really hot on the circuit and I’m getting a huge response from people who are really excited about having him,” Korenoski said.
Whey Jennings, the grandson of country legend Waylon Jennings, will entertain on Thursday.
“We had him in 2019 and I was so impressed with his sound,” Korenoski said.
“He’s the old country and he sounds like his grandfather and he puts on a great show.”
She said no Thunder in the Valley would be complete without rocker Jasmine Cain.
“She’s really popular and everyone really loves her energy, and she’s always a great opener for any band that I have,” Korenoski said.
Additional acts include Bastard Bearded Irishmen, Felix and the Hurricanes, Van Waylon, Full Kilt, Giants of Science, S’wearing Hats, Stonebridge Blues, Cajun Norm and the Jam Band, Boomers and Jimmy Adler.
The parades are a highlight of Thunder in the Valley.
The Hot Nights, Cool Lights Parade will be held Thursday starting at Primanti Bros., 510 Galleria Drive, Richland Township.
The lineup will start at 7 p.m. with the parade beginning at 9:30 p.m. and proceeding into downtown Johnstown. The route is still being finalized.
On June 26, the Grand Thunder Parade lineup will begin at 11 a.m. at the Commerce Center on Broad Street.
Bikes will arrive at Sargent’s Stadium at the Point at noon.
The parade will then proceed down Main Street.
“The Grand Thunder Parade has always been the highlight of the Thunder weekend and everyone looks forward to coming down and watching the parade or participating in it,” Rager said.
The rally will feature 80 food, motorcycle gear and merchandise sellers.
Vendors will offer leather products, helmets, boots, gloves, chaps, stickers, patches, accessories, jewelry and cleaning products.
Coming back will be Speeds Performance Plus, which will do dyno tuning, along with vendors that focus on LED lights and LED accessories and a vendor that will hand paint art on motorcycles.
BMW Motorrad and Kissell Motorsports will offer demo rides with the new R 18.
Five Star Powersports will sell equipment.
“There’s a lot of carry-over and people who are interested in motorcycles also are interested in off-road vehicles, so we’re happy to have Five Star coming in to bring us that variety,” said Nicole Waligora, Visit Johns-town’s sports tourism program coordinator.
Official Thunder in the Valley merchandise, including T-shirts, hats, mugs and patches, will be sold in Central Park, the Biker Mall, Peoples Natural Gas Park, Market and Walnut streets and the Johns Street Bridge.
There will be plenty of food vendors to satisfy rally-goers.
“We have a little bit of everything – from homemade bake goods, barbecue, tacos and strombolis,” Waligora said.
“There will not be a shortage of food. If bikes aren’t your thing, just come down and eat.”
New featured food vendors include Jim’s Smokin’ Que, serving barbecue; Potluck Gypsy, serving corn on the cob, quesadillas, fajitas, jambalaya and carnitas; and Taco Inc. offering tacos, burritos and nachos.
Thunderbolt Saloons will be at Central Park, Peoples Natural Gas Park and the Biker Mall.
An integral part of the four-day rally is the volunteers.
“We wouldn’t be able to hold Thunder in the Valley without volunteers,” said Stacey Wyandt, Visit Johnstown’s office and volunteer coordinator.
“They play a huge role in the event. It takes approximately 170 volunteers to run the event.”
She said organizers still need volunteers to work identification verification stations at the Thunderbolt Saloons during evening hours, predominantly from 9 p.m. to midnight.
“Volunteers will be accepted up until the day of the event,” Wyandt said.
“Right now, I’m at 120 volunteers, so we could still use a few more.”
For those interested in volunteering, call Wyandt at 814-536-7993, ext. 105, or email email@example.com.
Rager said Thunder in the Valley attracts between 80,000 to 120,000 people yearly.
“Everyone has their different things they focus on – some people focus on entertainment, some on the different types of motorcycles and for some, it’s the vendors, so everybody has their favorites about Thunder,” Rager said.
For a full schedule of events, visit www.visitjohnstownpa.com.