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Thunder Nites concludes second successful year

Published: Monday, Sept. 16, 2013 10:57 a.m. CST • Updated: Monday, Sept. 16, 2013 11:16 a.m. CST
(Mandi Lamb/Daily News)
Halloween came a bit early for the final installment of this year's Thunder Nites.
(Mandi Lamb/Daily News)
outheast Iowa band Rukkus (below) performed during Friday's event, and Thunder Nites Treasurer Libby Marshall said between 800 and 1,000 motorcycles come to downtown Newton for each event.

Thunder Nites Treasurer Libbie Marshall enthusiastically describes the second series of Thunder Nites in Newton “a huge success.”

“We were very, very happy with the turnout. It’s just getting bigger and better all the time,” Marshall said. “We learn things every year, so there’s probably going to be some changes, but we just expect it to get bigger and better.”

During the fifth and final Thunder Nites event of the year Friday night, Marshall announced next year’s band lineup, which will feature, in no particular order, Standing Hampton, Mr. Fugly, Insane Jane, Small Town Superheroes and Gimikk.

Thunder Nites is a nonprofit organization that was a vision of Bob O’Brien, owner of Dairy Queen. Marshall said the mission of Thunder Nites is two-fold.

“The first part of our mission statement is to bring people in to Newton to experience the town and what we have to offer,” she said. “The second part of our mission to give back to other non-profit organizations. So far in 2013, we have donated $750 to the AKTION Club at Progress Industries who provide our clean up; $200 to PALS (Poweshiek Animal League Service), a no-kill shelter for animals; and $200 to Historic Route 6 Organization. We’re pretty proud of that.”

Thunder Nites are on the second Friday of each month from May through September, and Marshall said between 600 and 1,000 motorcycles fill downtown Newton during each event.

“Between the five bikes night, we estimate we have generated about $500,000 in revenue throughout the county, whether it be through food, drink, gasoline or overnight accommodations,” Marshall said.

Several food vendors — including Papa Wolfie’s BBQ, Domino’s Pizza, Midtown Café and Buch-a-wich — offer dining options during Thunder Nites, and the Scoreboard Bar & Grill provides the beverage garden. Thunder Nites also provides an opportunity for other nonprofit groups, such as the Jasper County Animal Rescue League and the Patriot Guard Riders, to set up booths to promote themselves.

Marshall said organizers hope to gain more sponsors for next year and offer more food vending options during Thunder Nites.

“There are a lot of preparations to pull off the biggest repeating event Newton has ever seen,” Marshall said. “We are so thankful for our generous sponsors, our amazing volunteers and the many bikers. Without them, we could not do this. It was just a huge success for this year, and we’re looking forward to next year.”

Daily News Associate Editor Mandi Lamb may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 424, or at