As the big race approaches, many are getting ready for ThunderFest to rock downtown Rockingham in Harrington Square.
In celebration of NASCAR returning to Rockingham Speedway, Friday, April 12, will be the day Harrington Square is filled with food and activities for attendees.
The event will open at 11 a.m. and end at 10 p.m. and will include a free kids zone with racing-themed inflatables, a rock wall and laser tag which are all sponsored by Richmond County government. ThunderFest is tied into the weekend of the biggest race of the year, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series’ North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at The Rock Presented by Cheerwine, scheduled for Sunday, April 14.
A mechanical bull will also be at the event for anyone wishing to test their riding skills. The bull costs $5 to ride and will be located adjacent to the beer garden. The beer garden opens at 4 p.m. and is sponsored by the Rockingham Kiwanis. There will be free caricature drawings from 4 to 7 p.m., and a rock wall to climb.
“I think it’s a plus that we have ThunderFest. I think it shows NASCAR that we are happy to have them back,” said Kim Williams, City of Rockingham events coordinator.
She said NASCAR has been really pleased with ThunderFest and “the amount of support that comes from the community.”
At 5 p.m., PondeR will rock the stage, courtesy of Pee Dee EMC, and at 6 p.m. the Hauler’s Parade will make its way through downtown. “The Hauler’s are going to the parade through ThunderFest, that’s going to make it a little more involved this year,” Williams said. She said that PondeR will stop playing, let the Hauler’s come through and then start playing again.
The Hauler’s route will include Greene Street, Lee Street, Franklin Street and U.S. Highway 1 (Fayetteville Road).
From 7 to 7:15 p.m., NASCAR driver Joey Coulter will play guitar on stage with PondeR.
Before Craig Woolard takes the stage, also courtesy of Pee Dee EMC, at 8 p.m., there will be a question and answer session with NASCAR drivers Coulter, Todd Bodine and Erik Jones in front of the stage where Woolard will play.
The Hauler for the 2012 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Champion, James Buescher, will also be on display at ThunderFest for people to walk through.
Besides Coulter taking the stage, Buescher’s Hauler and the question and answer session, there will also be a new food vendor at ThunderFest.
Stephen Four, owner of What’s Four Lunch, a lunch trailer that travels to different destinations, cooks food and also delivers food, will take part in this year’s event. Four said that he is excited to cook for those at ThunderFest.
He said, for right now, he will have four items on his menu that he will serve. One of the items will be a chicken on a stick. “It’s my take on the giant turkey leg,” Four said. He said he will cut four pound chickens in half and use three bamboo skewers as handles. He said people will have a choice of roasted or barbecued chicken. He will also serve fried pickles with his homemade sauce as well as a collard green sandwich. The collard green sandwich will have a cornbread bun, stewed collard greens and a piece of ham. “I haven’t decided on the fourth item yet,” Four said. He said he will have other items to serve in case he runs out of those four items.
“Because of the fact that it’s going to be all day, I’ve decided I wanted to open with some things and faze them out the rest of the day,” said Four.
Four said he will also be at the big race on Sunday and will have a concession unit on the inside of the building. He will also have his trailer on the outside of the building.
On Friday, at Rockingham Speedway, from 1 to 1:55 p.m., there will be UARA practice; from 2 to 2:55 p.m., there will be FKSSN practice; from 3 to 3:55 p.m., there will be UARA final practice; and from 4:05 to 4:30 p.m. there will be FKSSN qualifying.
Tickets, suite packages and camping accommodations for the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at The Rock presented by Cheerwine are now available at www.rockinghamspeedway.com or by calling 910-205-8800. Saturday general admission tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the gate, with grandstand tickets for Sunday’s NCWTS event beginning at $20.
— Staff Writer Laura Edington can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.