by Kay Kemmet
published: Wednesday, 3 August 2011
Southern Airboat subscribers started talking about this year’s Thunder on the Loup a month ago.
“Who’s going?” got the conversation going. Mostly, Nebraskans responded, saying they were going to Thunder on the Loup, with a few out-of-staters mixed in. Some are bringing a boat, others are just coming to watch the spectacle and camp for the weekend.
“Most people come just for the experience of being there,” said Mike Jakubowski, an airboater and an employee at Tom Dinsdale Automotive Group.
The event starts Saturday on the Loup River near Palmer, but campers will show up on Thursday night, according to Jakubowski. There also is a $5 admission fee on top of a $10 fee for tent camping and $20 for mobile homes.
“People come from all over just to see it,” Jakubowski said.
Another forum on the site, “THUNDER ON THE LOOP??? ANY FLORIDA BOYS GOING??????,” got 16 hits, all from out-of-state boaters. Most said yes, they will be there.
“Every year, it’s just gotten bigger and bigger,” Jakubowski said. “Last year it really took a huge leap forward.”
Tom Dinsdale of Dinsdale Automotive Group started the event eight years ago. This year, Jakubowski said, he expects about 50 competitors and more than 150 airboats.
Others will come just to relax and enjoy the environment. Jakubowski said it’s a neat spot and offers a break from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Last year, 20 campers showed up on Tuesday night to start the weekend early. This year, 30 campers are already stationed on the Loup River, according to Dinsdale.
“We should have a good crowd, a lot of boats and a lot of fun,” he said.
At 2 p.m. Saturday, there will be an oval racing competition. On Sunday at 1 p.m., the airboaters will drag race. For competitions, it costs $25 to register a boat. Cash prizes and trophies are awarded to race winners.
On Saturday, there also will be a steak feed and dance with a live band at 7 p.m. Concessions will be available throughout the weekend.
This year’s sponsors include Tom Dinsdale Automotive Group, Bosselman Inc., Grand Island Family Radio, Green Line Equipment, KSYZ FM, Marshall Engines, Tri-City Sign, The Grand Island Independent, Grand Island Equipment, Toners Inc., Hornady Bullets, Auto Trim Design, Diamond Back Airboats, Tin Man Airboats, Elkhorn Valley Airboats, Dinsdale Brothers, Pinnacle Bank and Pinnacle Insurance. Proceeds from the event will go to the Palmer Sons of the American Legion.
“There is something for everyone to do,” Jakubowski said. “Most people there don’t have an airboat.”