Local vendors appear to be exploding during Thunder Beach Bike Rally

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) — Skies showed no storms in sight, but thunder could still be heard around Panama City Beach on Thursday. With that, a boom for the local economy.

“This event has thousands of loyal supporters who come every year. So the money we get from this event through bed tax numbers and stimulating the economy, it really helps us throughout the year,” said Lacee Rudd, PR Manager from Visit Panama City Beach.

But this Thunder Beach bike rally is under new ownership, bringing new additions.

“I’m really expecting a good turnout at the concerts this weekend,” said Thunder Beach owner Chase Micheal.

Vendors tell us that the addition of big-name concerts has already attracted more attendance than in years past.

“The crowds are big. The venue is definitely bigger than in previous years. The bands are going to be bigger and better. It’s going great,” said Avon Grips owner Dave Kelly.

But the number of customers is not the only thing that is said to be on the rise.

“People come from all over the country to ride here and be here and they’re spending more on their bikes, on themselves, and the response has been great,” said Shane Riffel, owner of Rickrak Motorcycle Accessories.

Sellers tell us this is the business boom they needed.

“Once spring comes around, they get their bikes out, they’re like ‘man, let’s get some accessories, let’s ride, travel, have fun and show off our bikes.’ So when they come here, they’re happy to spend more money,” Riffel said.

Money that also goes to local businesses outside of Frank Brown Park.

“The motorcycling community is very charitable. When they come to town, they come on motorbikes, they go to restaurants, bars, hotels. I think it will have a very positive effect on the economy,” Micheal said.

A hoped-for positive effect for this whole spring rally.

Frank Brown Park and Harley Davidson vendors open again Friday through the rest of the weekend from 9:00 a.m. Frank Brown concerts begin again on Fridays through the rest of the weekend at 6:00 p.m., with headliners at 8:00 p.m. For more information on vendors and concerts, visit the events calendar.

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Wiley C. Thompson