The 19th edition of Thunder by the Bay got underway Thursday with the blast of a shotgun at Ancient Oak Gun Club.
Sixteen teams of four members gathered for the annual motorcycle festival’s opening event, a sporting clays tournament.
Attendance is expected to spike this weekend as the fest, one of the larger biker events in Florida, hits its stride with the Rockin’ and Ridin’ at the Ranch Festival from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday at Premier Sports Campus, 5895 Post Blvd., Lakewood Ranch.
Blue Oyster Cult, the headliner band, is scheduled to take the stage 4 p.m. at Sunday. Blue Oyster Cult’s hits include “Don’t Fear the Reaper,” “Burnin’ for You” and “Godzilla.”
Other bands set to perform this weekend include Twinkle & Rock Soul Radio, Diary of an Ozzman, Keep the Faith, KISS America, Def Leggend and Bobby Friss.
Until this year, the fest was primarily held in downtown Sarasota, where it attracted about 90,000 visitors.
On Thursday, a massive circus tent loaned by Circus Arts Conservancy already was erected at Premier Sports Campus, along with a number of other smaller tents as vendors began delivering supplies.
“We are ready for a big time,” festival committee member Tom Houser said as he watched festival setup from under the big top. “We are in the beginning stages of doing the preparations. The performance stage is being delivered today.”
We are very excited. We have beautiful weather and are expecting a great turnout Friday at our official Born to be Wild kickoff party at Polo Grill and Bar.
which receives the proceeds from Thunder by the Bay
Lucy V. Nicandri, executive director of Suncoast Charities for Children, which receives the proceeds from the fest, watched as shooters dined on barbecue after the sporting clays tourney.
“We are very excited. We have beautiful weather and are expecting a great turnout Friday at our official Born to be Wild kickoff party at Polo Grill and Bar,” Nicandri said.
The Polo Grill and Bar is located at 10670 Boardwalk Loop, Lakewood Ranch. The party starts at 6 p.m. There are still tickets available online at thunderbythebay.org.
“Come on out to the kickoff party. We will have live music by the Billy Rice Band, a silent auction, and food and beverage tasting stations. It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Nicandri said.
Admission to Thunder by the Bay, including the Blue Oyster Cult concert, is free. There are some events and features, including a beer and wine sampling tent, with an entry fee.
Thunder by the Bay schedule
Born to be Wild kickoff party, Polo Grill and Bar (ticketed event), 6-10 p.m.
Welcome Thunder event, The Coral House, 3-10 p.m.
Cruise for Cash charity motorcycle ride, registration 9:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. at Sarasota Ford
Rockin’ & Ridin’ at the Ranch Festival, 10 a.m-10 p.m.
Rockin’ & Ridin’ at the Ranch Festival, 10 a.m-6 p.m.
For additional details, visit thunderbythebay.org.