Thunder in the Park Keeps 'Rolling' Sept. 2
Are you ready for fun, festivities and fireworks?
Saturday, Sept. 2, Wilson Park will once again host Union County's signature Thunder in the Park festival, a free event that will light up the night with a professional fireworks show. The gates open at 5 p.m.
This is Thunder in the Park's second year. The brainchild of former Union County Chamber of Commerce president Leslie Corum, it was a partnership between the Chamber and Union County government. This year, Union County government is taking the lead to bring the thunder once again.
Union County Mayor Mike Williams said the success of last year's event surprised everyone.
"We were told to expect 2,500 to 3,000 people, and we had close to double that," he said.
Vendors ran out of food, and local businesses reported having record-breaking sales during last year's event. Festival organizers are taking a cue from last year's numbers and increasing key infrastructure elements, doubling last year's numbers of portable restrooms and trash receptacles, and increasing the number of food vendors. Pyroshows, the professional fireworks company that brought Boomsday to Knoxville, is providing the fireworks for the event again this year, and WIVK radio is the flagship sponsor.
A new sound system will ensure that folks can hear music for the fireworks program anywhere on the grounds. There will be music for the entire event, and Southern Drift will return with live music again this year. Williams said all music will be family-friendly.
"Southern Drift did a very good job last year, and we were glad to have them," he said.
Plenty of activities will keep all ages entertained while they wait for the big fireworks show. For the kids, there will be an inflatable slide, free face painting by Faces Gone Wild, and Zach Richardson with Captain Z's Fun-makers. There will be a special tent with bingo games. Richard Childress Racing will bring one of Austin Dillon's #3 racing cars for the public to view, as well.
If you're into cars, #3 isn't the only one you'll see at Thunder in the Park. There will be a cruise-in car show along with the festival, and all are welcome to bring special, unique cars, motorcycles, tractors and more. The car show isn't judged, but those participating will be entered to win door prizes.
Food vendors include both professional food trucks and local fundraisers. On the list as of this writing are: Mr. Pizza, Greek Pita Sandwiches, Union County Soccer, Gypsy Kitchen, Calvin's Food Cart, Hawg Heaven BBQ, Boy Scouts of America, Union County Lions Club, Parrott's Concession, Willow Ridge, Maynardville Elementary School and Hibachi Chicken.
There will also be merchant booths, including Bar M, Lularoe, Renewal by Anderson, Senior Citz, Tupperware, Prissy Picket, Friendly Farms, Little Valley Creations and Greens Shop, Comb Ridge Crafters, FFA, Beth Bonds Boutique, Martin Shafer, Church of the Good Shepherd, and a fundraiser for Union County High School homecoming queen.
"We don't want to do too much, but we do want to grow a little bit each year," said Williams. "It's to give thanks to all the people in Union County. It brings people into the county and shows that Union County can put on a good event where people can have a good time with their family and not spend a ton of money."
"A lot of people didn't think that we could pull this off, but anytime we can do an event of a large nature like this and show the good people that Union County has the willingness to work hard, I think it helps our county. We may be a small county, but we're competitive."