PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — Thunderbeach Beach Motorcycle Rally now has the full financial backing of the Bay County Tourist Development Council (TDC) and the Convention and Visitor Bureau.
“We are going to be getting invoices from Thunder Beach for local vendors that are going to do part of the setup,” TDC Executive Director Dan Rowe said. “And the TDC will pay those invoices directly to make sure that everything is above board.”
The move stems from criminal charges filed against the most recent owner Chase Michael, who bought Thunder Beach in January 2022, with plans to introduce big-name musical acts to the already successful event.
He allegedly asked local residents for loans to pay for the entertainment.
The concerts were unsuccessful, and Michael either failed to repay the loans or wrote bad checks to those residents.
He was charged with 22 counts of fraud on September 21.
Thunder Beach’s founder Joe Biggs reacquired the business, but concerns around the event still linger.
“The board of directors decided that we needed to financially support, you know, the rally moving forward because of some of the changes that have happened within Thunder Beach,” Rowe said.
The board will be covering a number of costs.
“When you do a large-scale special event like Thunder Beach, you have to rent tents, and you have to rent fencing, and you have to rent all of that equipment to go to support the event,” Rowe said.
The TDC, however, will not cover the cost of entertainment.
“I believe that most everything that attendees are used to will be there for Thunder Beac,” Visit Panama City Beach’s Chief Marketing Officer Jayna Leach said. “I do believe there is a change this year. And that there will not be concerts like there was last year.”
The fall Thunder Beach rally is scheduled to begin October 25.
Michael pled not guilty during his October 2 arraignment. His next court appearance is January 4.