Cementing bands was music to the Thunder Valley Rally Committee’s ear.
“Confirmed acts so far will be Blue Oyster Cult and Mogollon,” committee chairwoman Karen Vernetti said. “Tent and RV camping in the park area will be available this year for ‘no driving’ access to your sleeping quarters after the party. The event will still feature the Saturday Poker Run, beginning in Old Town Saturday morning, and, also to be scheduled, a motorcycle freestyle show.”
Despite some foreboding engine rumblings from some city of Cottonwood officials, Thunder Valley Rally is around for good, according to TVR’s top planners.
“TVR is here to stay and will continue to provide a safe, fun weekend for bikers and non-bikers alike,” said Vernetti, also owner of an ATV and motorcycle repair shop. “With the growing numbers, we needed to make long term plans of how TVR will expand and grow outside of the confines of limited space in Old Town.”
This year’s TVR, which takes place Friday and Saturday, Sept. 15 and 16, will be the first to feature a split location: Until approximately 5 p.m., Main Street through Old Town will be shut down to accommodate daytime events, including two small venue music stages and vendors. After that point, activity shifts to Riverfront Park — or, as it will be known that weekend, Freedom Bird Park.
Though initially opposed to moving evening programming to Riverfront, TVR Committee member Rose Ortiz said that she has come around to the venue’s potential to accommodate greater crowd capacity.
“I personally thought we were a long way from outgrowing Old Town,” Ortiz said, adding that last year’s event attracted an estimated 8,500 people. “I still feel that way, but I’m excited. I don’t want to think big. I want to think huge .... This is not just a local opportunity anymore.”
Ortiz said that public sentiment can seem inimical to TVR — a fact that reveals, for her, less about a majority view than the squeaky wheel getting the grease.
“I think, for the most part, the community is behind this event. I think it is a very small, but very loud, group that doesn’t have the warm and fuzzies for us. I hope that changes .... We have the environment. We have the facilities.”
“It’s good for our community,” she said. “People want to come here. The people who attend TVR love this area. They come back all year long.”
Though not inclined to point fingers, Ortiz said that Cottonwood Mayor Timothy Elinksi — who previously served for multiple terms as a City Council member — has been a vocal opponent of the event.
“Mr. Elinski has not attended the event,” Ortiz claimed. “I wish he would, because I think it might change his mind — change his perception as to what type of event it is. It’s a managed, well organized event [and] the police don’t have a problem with it. They love it .... In the past, the mayors has attended the event. I hope the mayor attends this year.”
According to Ortiz, it’s not unjustified for the public to expect TVR to be accountable for its bills and to some day break even — to eventually be self-supporting instead of being subsidized by the city. She praised last year’s committee, in partnership with the city, for more than halving the cost to Cottonwood residents.
“It’s my tax money, too,” Ortiz said. “I want it to pay for itself. And how do we shrink that deficit? We get butts in the door.”