The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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June 17, 2012

Thunder: Ebensburg gears up for Wheels & Wings

EBENSBURG — Businesses and community supporters of the Ebensburg area are hoping, as in previous years, some of the thousands of motorcycle enthusiasts coming to Johnstown later this week for Thunder in the Valley will make their way up Route 219 to the Cambria County seat.

Thursday, the first day of the four-day Thunder event, will give the Ebensburg business district a chance to show off some of the area’s best wings and classic cars.

With 10,000 to 15,000 visitors expected, the 8th annual Wheels & Wings will be held from 5 to 10 p.m. This year’s event will feature the return of hometown son Travis Stock, a 2000 graduate of Central Cambria High School, as part of the entertainment.

Direct from Nashville, Stock is a member of country band Don Gallardo & How Far West, where he plays bass and sings.

The Don Gallardo band will perform from 6 to 9:30 p.m. at North Center and High streets, providing a musical backdrop to the vehicle show and wings.

“We’re putting a special emphasis on this band from Nashville, Tenn.,” said Shawna Drop, Ebensburg Community Development director.

The Wheels & Wings festivities will begin at 4:30 p.m. with registration for the car, truck and motorcycle show being held throughout the downtown district.

Fairgrounds will become campground for bikers

Trophies will be awarded for winners in five classes of cars, one class of trucks and three classes of motorcycles.

The wing-off will begin at 5 p.m. in Memorial Park and continue through 10, Drop said of the 16 vendors signed up to participate.

Drop said Wheels & Wings provides a great opportunity for bikers from outside the area to ride on more rural roads.

“We’re surrounded by a lot of beautiful back roads,” she said. “And we do it Thursday so it doesn’t pull away from Thunder in the Valley.

More than 100 volunteers are needed to pull off the evening of good food and music, she said of the helpers, who do everything from sell T-shirts and hats to handle the trash, judge the car shows and direct traffic and parking.

Not only do the civic organizations get involved, but businesses benefit as well, said Kim Springer, State Farm agent and exclusive sponsor for the event.

“They really put a lot of effort into this,” Springer said of the volunteers. “But that’s the kind of community Ebensburg is.”

Not only do the wing vendors benefit, but restaurants in Ebensburg and the Cambria Township area go all out to make sure the bikers and others visiting the event have a good time.

“It’s a great night for our restaurants. It really gives those guys a good shot in the arm with a good night of profit,” Springer said.

This year marks the third one for Springer as exclusive sponsor. She emphasizes that safety is always of first importance, and that the Wheels & Wings has turned into a nice event.

“I love this community and anything that helps it makes my day,” she said.

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