West End update – Nate Heffron – city of Negaunee

Thunder reigned in downtown Negaunee

NEGAUNEE — The second Thunder on The Iron Range Music Festival in in the books and the reviews are in!

Roughly 6,000 people were in downtown Negaunee over the weekend. The general feeling from the crowd was that they can’t wait for the event next year.

For those who were not able to attend, the event included such rock legends as Lita Ford, Blackberry Smoke, Winger, and FireHouse.

The production even included some local and regional talent – giving special nod and well-deserved recognition to some of the talent the Upper Peninsula has to offer.

The festival itself has a great economic impact not only on Negaunee, but the surrounding area. With each annual event, the economic impact should only grow year over year.

This is just not a prediction. It’s a testament to the empathetic and proactive management style of the festival coordinators.

They would be the first to say they are not perfect, but they are willing put the work in before the event and even step in during the event to make it run smoothly. This is a welcome attitude and should not only emulated but applauded.

According to the TOTIR website, Thunder on the Iron Range Music Fest was created in 2015.

Historically keeping with country, southern rock and bluegrass genres, after public polling in 2019 they added a third day dedicated to classic and 80s rock.

According to their mission, the event was organized to promote the appreciation of the Americana-Roots Music Performing Artist and the unique Cultures they’re derived from.

ll operations are exclusively for charitable and educational purposes, the promotion of the Musical Performing Arts, and to provide support to local school programs and civic groups in the historic Upper Peninsula iron mining town of Negaunee.

Uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021 meant the cancelation of the concerts for those years.

It was hard decision to cancel, but this year’s event seemed to make it worth the wait.

The successes of 2019 and the strong interest of everyone wanting to return to pre-pandemic-lifestyles lead to a surge in planning the event for 2022.

Organizers expanded venue space, added capacity, and with the support of the City of Negaunee, a much larger event was planned than in years past.

Next year the event coordinators intend to move the venue location from Iron Street to Jackson Mine Park.

Moving the location will allow tighter control over the venue and reduce disruptions to the businesses located on Iron Street.

That change of venue, in and of itself, should help improve economic opportunities for everyone during the festival.

Coordinators will need to apply for a special use permit through the city’s Planning and Zoning department in order to hold this event in the park next year.

This process will include notifications to adjoining land owners and review of the overall event plan.

We are excited to see this production continue in Negaunee and will work with the coordinators to ensure that its successful.

We hope that more spectators will join us in Negaunee and forge their adventures with us.

Editor’s note: Nate Heffron is city manager of the city of Negaunee.


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