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Thunder Valley Rally rolls into Cottonwood with Slaughter, Steven Adler

Motorcycles at the ready at Riverfront Park. (City of Cottonwood/courtesy)

Motorcycles at the ready at Riverfront Park. (City of Cottonwood/courtesy)

Originally Published: September 14, 2022 9:01 p.m.

The 21st annual Thunder Valley Rally rolls into Old Town Cottonwood on Sept. 16-17. The area’s premier two-day biker event is complete with motorcycles, live music, contests, food and all around fun. It is produced by the City of Cottonwood with the help of The Law Tigers and other local and regional business sponsors.

Located between the red rocks of Sedona to the east and Mingus Mountain to the west, the City of Cottonwood boasts a thriving downtown area, great weather and plenty of opportunities to recreate outdoors. Thunder Valley Rally brings in visitors from all over the region, many of whom will arrive on motorcycles to participate in the events the rally offers. The festival takes place at Riverfront Park with plenty of additional activities at nearby local businesses in Old Town Cottonwood.

“This event really helps to highlight Cottonwood,” said Jak Teel, Parks and Recreation director for the city. “It shows what our town has to offer including a great climate, access to the Verde River, year-round outdoor recreation, and a wide variety of local businesses. September is a great time to visit Cottonwood.”

While this will be the first year the city makes a formal effort to count the number of people who attend, Teel estimates about 5,000 will attend over the course of the two day festival.

“It’s an important event for our community,” he said. “It brings lots of people into town which benefits our restaurants and local businesses and the city itself. The additional sales tax revenue helps fund infrastructure and other city projects throughout the year.”

Live music is always a big part of Thunder Valley Rally, and this year’s entertainment features headliners Steven Adler of Guns n Roses on Friday night and legendary hard-rock band Slaughter on Saturday. Other performances on Friday include DoubleBlind, American Sltang, Christopher Shayne and the Mingus Union High School Choir. On Saturday, Very Cherry, Co-Op, Ryan Chrys and the Rough Cuts and Mogollon perform throughout the day.

In addition to visiting local sites, Thunder Valley Rally offers a variety of events and vendors at Riverfront Park. The Custom Cycle Show takes place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday hosted by Chicoz Cycle Shop and Outlaw Biker Magazine. This year’s festival also features the First Annual Thunder Throwdown ISKA Kickboxing Championship on Saturday evening. A Miss TVR competition takes place at Main Stage Bar earlier that day.

And what would a bike rally be without a Poker Run? Or, in this case, a Dice Run. The Thunder Valley Rally Dice Run for Charity will start on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. from the 10-12 Lounge in Clarkdale. Riders will cruise through the Verde Valley including Cottonwood, Cornville, Lake Montezuma and Camp Verde to roll the dice at various stops to collect their points finishing at American Legion Post 25 in Cottonwood. Prizes will be awarded for both High Total and Low Total ride cards. Participants can pre-register or sign up on Saturday at the 10-12 Lounge before the 10:30 a.m. start.

“We hope locals will enjoy the festival as well as our out-of-town visitors,” said Teel. “We know it can be disruptive for residents in the Old Town area, but we hope they will also come out and have some fun. The festival completely transforms Riverfront Park into something new and different that we want everyone to experience.”

For more information about Thunder Valley Rally, visit thundervalleyrallyaz.com or call the City of Cottonwood at 928-639-3200. Camping is available nearby at Dead Horse Ranch State Park, Verde Ranch RV Resort and Kickstand Campground at Verde Fairgrounds.

Cindy Cole is a freelancer for the Independent. She is a writer, editor, photographer and artist. Reach her at cindycole@live.com.