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Local

Thunder Nites to relocate to DMACC campus

Thunder Nites in Newton has a new venue in 2018. Catch live bands and vendors at the west parking lot on DMACC’s campus.
Thunder Nites in Newton has a new venue in 2018. Catch live bands and vendors at the west parking lot on DMACC’s campus.

As one of Newton’s most beloved events, Thunder Nites will make its return this year with bands taking the stage at a new venue. On DMACC’s campus, attendees can still expect a variety of funky beats and vendors.

Weekend Pit Stop, a nonprofit organization, has a mission to promote Newton through events, like Thunder Nites motorcycle night, Cruisin to Newton classic car show and What’s Not New in Newton antique and collectible show.

Bob O’Brien, president of Weekend Pit Stop, said the change of venue for the bike night was made by the organization’s board members last year. For the last six years, the event has been located in downtown Newton on the Jasper County Courthouse square and draws in more than 1,000 motorcyclists annually.

“The main reason for the change was convenience,” O’Brien said. “We have a better partnership with DMACC because of Newton Fest, and we were going to be losing power to the where the stage was located downtown.”

The new location at DMACC’s west parking lot, will allow for event expansion, better set-up times for bands and no downtown traffic. The relocation was at no cost to Weekend Pit Stop and will save the organization money in the long run, according to O’Brien.

“Plans for Thunder Nites in 2018 include having bigger and better bands and more retail and food vendors,” O’Brien said. “We also plan to transform the green space at DMACC into a kids’ area.”

Lance Hawley, director of Weekend Pit Stop, said the biggest change to Thunder Nites will be having everyone in one larger area at DMACC. Hawley said another change about the event is the added live broadcasting from KGGO.

“The biggest reason we moved the event was because of the increase in attendance we’ve been seeing,” Hawley said. “Now people won’t have to walk a few blocks to get to the entertainment — you will be able to hear the bands no matter where you are, at the event.”

O’Brien said there has been a variety of feedback from the community about the new venue.

“We have gotten feedback from both sides,” O’Brien said. “People don’t always like change … we plan on staying at DMACC for awhile, and it’s only a few blocks from downtown.”

O’Brien said he’s most excited about getting bigger and better in 2018.

“I love seeing people come from out of town for this event to explore Newton,” O’Brien said. “People in Newton should be proud to have Thunder Nites in their hometown because it’s the second biggest bike night in the Midwest.”

The board relies on sponsors from local businesses to make Thunder Nites happen.

“The board very much appreciates all of our wonderful sponsors that make this event possible, without them this event wouldn’t happen,” O’Brien said.

Contact Kayla Singletary at 641-792-3121 ext. 6533 or ksingletary@newtondailynews.com

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