By JONATHAN ZWEYGARDT
Municipal Park in downtown Hays will once again be the site of the annual Thunder on The Plains Car, Truck and Cycle Show as car enthusiasts from across the region come together to raise money to benefit local causes.
This year’s car show, the eighth year of the event, will start with the cruise night on Sept. 15 and then the car show on Sept. 16.
The cruise night that gets everything started Friday at 6 p.m. will start at Big Creek Crossing and the group will go downtown and join in with the Thomas More Prep-Marian homecoming parade.
Following the cruise there will be a barbecue, a DJ, a beer garden manned by the Knights of Columbus and socializing at the park until 9 p.m.
Anyone who preregisters for the car show by today will get a free T-shirt and two tickets to the barbecue. Tickets for the barbecue also are available for purchase. Preregistration is also open during Friday night’s events.
Registration Saturday morning begins at 8 a.m. and continues through 11 a.m.
Thunder on The Plains secretary and treasurer Jackie Lang said after having 230 entries in last year’s show, they are hoping to see the event grow.
“This year we have included tractors,” Lang said, “so we're hoping that we get at least a good turnout for the very first year for that.”
They will once again have awards for Best of Show ($500), Best of Show Motorcycle ($300) and Best of Show Tractor ($100). Lang said they will give out 50 awards this year.
Organizers are hoping that they can encourage people to get their vehicles out of the garage and take part in this year’s event.
“We know that there are so many cars in town that people have in their garages [and they] are put away and they never get them out,” Lang said. “That's one thing we really want to encourage people to do is to bring their cars out.”
Organization President Rod Roy said the event is a great opportunity for everyone to get out and enjoy the vehicles.
“It's a way for people to talk about cars and share stories,” Roy said. “There's a lot of cars out there that just sit in the garage and they probably feel that they're not showroom show ready, but that's OK. People will appreciate seeing them.”
The Thunder on the Plains car show is not only an opportunity for car enthusiasts to get together but they also raise money for local organizations and charities.
The car club, a 501(c)3 organization, has donated more than $80,000 since 2016.
“One of the whole reasons we do this, besides just loving cars,” Lang said, “is we raise money for local charities.”
Last year alone, they donated more than $25,000.
They have also created a scholarship at North Central Kansas Technical College for three Ellis County residents who are interested in the automotive field.
The proceeds from this year’s 50/50 raffle will go to the Kansas Honor Flight.
“We do this because we love cars and we want to get people out there, but we do it for the community to give back," Lang said,
Also during Saturday’s event, there will be a bounce house for the kids, food trucks, a beer garden and an auction.
The live auction will be at 12:30 p.m. with the awards presentation at 2 p.m.
Lang also said starting in 2024 the event will be moving permanently to the second Saturday in June at Municipal Park.