If you love motorcycles, good music and having a great time, maybe you gathered, along with 40,000 other Sarasota-area residents, in downtown Sarasota for the 2014 Thunder on the Bay, held January 9 through 12. This year marked the 16th anniversary of the Sarasota Motorcycle Festival, and featured food, entertainment, casino-style gaming, and much more.

More refined and less intimidating than the motorcycle festivals held across the state in Daytona, Thunder on the Bay was a great time for everyone, from die-hard bikers to those who just like to look at and dream about motorcycles.

The “Kick Start Party” was a high-end event held at The Francis Ballroom at Louie Modern. The real kickoff for most participants, however, was held on Friday night at the Hyatt Regency Sarasota. Here, revelers enjoyed cash food stations and a cash bar, live entertainment by Kettle of Fish, a silent auction, a 50/50 raffle, a Harley Davidson fashion show and more.

On Saturday, the family-friendly event took place on Main Street in downtown Sarasota, and offered free admission all day long. Paul Teutul, “Senior,” of Orange County Choppers made an appearance for autographs, as did Repo Man Bobby. There were vendors, demos and awesome food galore! The entertainment lineup included Whiskey Blind, Sean Chambers, Twinkle & Rock Soul Radio, Foghat, and the Matt Facciolla Band. That night was the LED “Light Up the Night” bike show, too.

Sunday’s festivities included Cruise for Cash, where $4,000 in prizes was given out; the Legacy of Valor Motorcycle Ride, which honors all veterans and active duty military troops; and the Blessing of the Bikes by the CMA Faith Riders. The Downtown Festival offered free admission, again, and featured entertainers Selwyn Birchwood, Jasmine Cain, and The Outlaws.

This is just a smattering of the fun that was had last week. If you missed the celebration this year, be sure to mark next year’s Thunder on the Bay on your calendars: It takes place January 8 through 11, 2015. Hope to see you there!