GENEVA-ON-THE-LAKE — Businesses at the Strip are going to have a busy weekend as tens of thousands of motorcyclists are expected to visit the village this weekend.
There were groups of motorcyclists already parked along the Strip Thursday before Thunder on the Strip officially kicks off on Friday.
Thunder on the Strip, started in 2007 in an attempt to extend the county's tourism season, is celebrating it's 13th year with live music, motorcycle stunt shows, vendors and food.
Dwayne Bennett, Geneva-on-the-Lake mayor and one of the founders of Thunder on the Strip, said he expects 60,000 visitors over the four days of the event.
Ashtabula County locals who visit Geneva-on-the-Lake this weekend will notice some changes. Signs announcing that parking is restricted to motorcycles are posted on every parking place along the Strip.
There is a lot of handicapped parking at the east end of the Strip next to the Visitors' Bureau building.
There are also a number of stages set up for live music and a vendors village that caters to motorcyclists.
Walter Gill, owner of Paragon Leather, was setting up shop on Thursday morning. "We expect a lot of business," Gill said.
The team from Paragon Leather is based in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and drove seven hours to Geneva-on-the-Lake for Thunder. Gill sleeps in his display at Thunder on the Strip and is willing to open up at any time. "If anybody comes, late night or early morning, we're here," Gill said.
There will be other leather apparel shops as well at the vendors village, along with a Geico motorcycle tent and vendors selling motorcycle parts, equipment and even paint jobs.
Guardians USA VETS Blue Chapter, an Ashtabula County group dedicated to helping local veterans, will also be at the even selling merchandise and talking to visitors.
"We support the local veterans in Ashtabula County," Tammy Waid, the group's secretary, said. The group helps with food and utility bills, among other things, Waid said.
"We stay busy all year," Waid said.
Guardians is selling shirts, pins, patches, poker chips and drink koozies at Thunder on the Strip, with profits from the event going to help local veterans.
Numerous bands performed on Thursday with even more on tap for the days to come, according to the event's schedule.
Friday at Thunder on the Strip:
The Founder's Parade will start at 4:45 p.m. at Sportsterz Bar and Grill.
High Flying Globe Shows will take place at 1 p.m., 4 p.m., 6 p.m., and 8 p.m. at the vendors' village.
The Contraband Stunt Team will perform at 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at Goblin Custom Cycle.
The Array of Light: Fire, Light & Dance Show will take place at 8:30 p.m. and 10 p.m. at Goblin Custom Cycle.
Check the Thunder on the Strip web page for a list of band performances at: http://www.thunderonthestrip.com/schedule.html