BY BRIAN HAYTCHER
GENEVA-ON-THE-LAKE — This weekend would have marked the 14th annual Thunder on the Strip, if not for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Organizers announced the cancellation of Thunder on the Strip in early August. Orders from Gov. Mike DeWine ban festivals, and the Ashtabula County Health Department categorizes Thunder on the Strip as a festival, organizer Dwayne Bennett said.
“I think it’s going to be a bit a little bit of a revenue hit for the county, that’s my opinion, and obviously, for the village,” Bennett said on Thursday.
No permits for special events or transient vendors were approved for this weekend, said Village Administrator Jeremy Schaffer.
“The reason we did that is trying to not make it an event, or not encourage crowds or anything like that to show up,” Schaffer said. “From the village’s standpoint, we did those things to try to limit people gathering together.”
Many event attendees book their lodging a year in advance, Bennett said. It’s impossible to know how many people who were going to attend the event will visit Geneva-on-the-Lake without it, he said.
Several of the food vendors in the village are already closed or did not open this summer, Bennett said.
The village will not restrict the Strip to motorcycle-only parking like it has in previous years, Schaffer said.
“Our approach to this weekend is just like it’s a normal, busy weekend,” Schaffer said.
The village is doing the same kind of things that were done for Labor Day weekend, he said.
The amount of traffic on Thursday was at usual levels, Schaffer said.
“I’m sure we’ll see [how busy it is] as the weekend progresses,” he said.
Schaffer said lodging properties are still full.
“We’re not hearing about a lot of cancellations or anything,” he said. “We are kind of expecting a busier weekend.”
Thunder on the Strip has regularly been one the busiest days of the summer for village businesses, and marked the end of the summer for many of the businesses. In 2019, the event drew an estimated 70,000 attendees, Bennett said.
“We’ve had some pretty busy weekends throughout the summer as well,” Bennett said. “People are just itching to do stuff, I guess.”
When the event was canceled, Bennett said he hoped to reschedule the event to May, with 2021’s event still scheduled for September 2021.