Faced with substantially increased fees and charges by the city of Sarasota and possible changes to the city’s outdoor events policy, organizers of the Thunder by the Bay motorcycle festival have decided to move the event to Lakewood Ranch.
The festival will mark its 19th year Jan. 5-8. An estimated 90,000 people attended the four-day fest in 2016.
Suncoast Charities for Children announced the location change Tuesday.
Planned for Premier Sports Campus is the Rockin’ & Ridin’ at the Ranch Festival 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 7, with more than 100 vendors, live music, displays, a food court, and craft beer, wine and spirits tasting. The Cruise for Cash charity motorcycle ride from Sarasota Ford is set for 9:30 a.m.to 11:30 a.m. Jan. 7, ending at Premier Sports Campus.
The Rockin’ & Ridin’ at the Ranch Festival continues 10 a.m-6 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 8.
Also planned at Lakewood Ranch is a sporting clay tournament at Ancient Oak Gun Club starting at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 5.
A Cruisers and Customs block party is planed for Sarasota’s Gulf Gate Village 6-11 p.m. Jan. 6.
“We are very excited to welcome this festival to the Lakewood Ranch community, which will allow it to expand and grow,” Rex Jensen, president and CEO of Schroeder-Manatee Ranch Inc., said in a press release.
Admission to the public for Thunder by the Bay has traditionally been free, said Lucy Nicandri, executive director for Suncoast Charities for Children and the festival director.
“Our primary focus is to do what is best for the charity, our sponsors, and attendees. The way to accomplish that is to keep expenses at a reasonable level, allow an opportunity for growth, and make everyone attending the event feel welcome,” she said.
Net proceeds from the annual event allow Suncoast Charities for Children to provide support to five local nonprofit agencies that serve more than 8,000 children, teens and adults with special needs.
“We are thrilled to host Thunder By The Bay’s block party in Gulf Gate Village since it will allow us a chance to be part of one of Sarasota’s most important weekend festivals,” Nicole Leffler, vice president of the Gulf Gate Area Merchants Association and owner of Wild Ginger Apothecary, said in a press release.
The 2016 fest had an economic impact of $8.8 million, with about 8,400 room nights, according to a Suncoast Charities for Children press release.
For festival information: thunderbythebay.org.