Each year, Thunder Over Evans continues to leave local audiences completely speechless with the enormous talent and incredible entertainment that is brought to the Evans Towne Center Park in just one day.
And this year will be no different.
As the largest privately funded Armed Forces Day celebration in the country, Thunder Over Evans is the brainchild of three local businessmen — Donnie Thompson, Andy Jones and the late Dale Phelon — who wanted to give something back to the men and women who serve our country.
It is the perfect opportunity to bring together the public and the military for a fun-filled day of events and a tribute to those who serve.
And perhaps the most impressive fact about the day’s entertainment on Saturday, May 21, is that the shows are free to the public.
“One of the attractions that I’m most excited about is this year’s motocross show,” said Shane Thompson of Windsor Jewelers, who helps organize the event. “Team FMX will be back this year and people will see a stunt that I’ve been told only four people in the world can do. It’s going to be incredible.”
Team FMX is owned and operated by Travis Willis, a freestyle motocross rider who has been performing extreme motorcycle stunt shows and producing events throughout North America since 2000.
In fact, Willis has been riding, jumping and flipping motorcycles for the past 15 years across more than 30 countries.
“It’s not just guys riding motorcycles around in circles,” Willis recently told a crowd Missouri. “We’ll be doing tricks you see on X-Games.”
After seeing the popularity of freestyle motocross skyrocket in the late 1990s, Willis designed and built a portable self-contained FMX ramp that travels non-stop putting on freestyle motocross exhibitions across the country.
Joining Thunder Over Evans for the fifth year in a row, these brave bikers will perform everything from a move called the “rock solid” to the “backflip” right before the audience’s eyes.
Since the start of Team FMX, Willis and his bikers have been featured on a variety of different television shows and stations such as American Choppers, MTV’s Jackass, Fox Sports NET, Fuel TV, History Channel, TNN and Speed Channel.
Some of the members of Team FMX have even competed and placed in events at the X-Games and the Moto-X World championships.
Willis reportedly favors stunts like the Superman seat grab, which is a variation of the rock-solid seat grab in which he appears to nearly leave his cycle as he extends his body from the bike.
His pick of moves is the “dead body,” in which he lies completely flat down parallel to the motorcycle with lots of air in between, he recently told The Southern Illinoisan newspaper.
Team FMX is guaranteed to put on a quality show that will leave a lasting impression, Thompson said.
The Army Aviation Heritage Foundation from Hampton, Ga., will also be bringing a UH-1 Huey Helicopter and AH-1 Cobra Helicopter to Thunder Over Evans and will be providing rides during the day.
The UH-1 Huey Helicopter first flew in 1956 and was the first helicopter powered by a turbo shaft engine, according to a spokesperson from the AAHF.
The Huey was primarily designed as a troop transport and could carry 10 soldiers including a crew of three. Its combat service included medical evacuation, search and rescue and other general utility roles, according to AAHF.
The UH-1 Huey is the world’s most recognizable helicopter and its look and sound has become one of the most iconic symbols of the Vietnam War.
More than 7,000 Hueys served in Vietnam and they totaled 7,531,955 flight hours, according to the AAHF.
The AH-1 Attack helicopter, also known as the Cobra, is also a special treat for those attending Thunder Over Evans this year, Thompson said.
The Cobra was developed out of the requirement by the U.S. Army for specialized fire suppression and armed escort during the Vietnam War.
The first Cobra arrived in Vietnam in August 1966 and was configured with a variety of weapon systems depending on its combat mission.
Usually 2.75 inch rocket pods were mounted under the stubby wings with machine guns in its nose turret, according to AAHF.
Cobras flew more than 1 million flight hours in Vietnam.
Another huge attraction will be the Timberwork’s Lumberjack Show that includes a team that travels all the way from Wisconsin to take part in Thunder Over Evans.
The show offers spectators a unique blend of logging history, world class competition, and plenty of hilarious entertainment.
Last year, the lumberjack team got the crowd all worked up as they put on a show of log rolling, speed pole climbing, axe throwing, chopping and more. Kids shrieked with laughter as the team showed off their mad ax skills and amazing rolling techniques.
These are only a few of the shows that will be available this year at Thunder Over Evans.
For a complete schedule of events and times, visit thunderoveraugusta.com.
And, of course, the day’s celebration wouldn’t be complete without a mega fireworks display starting around 9:15 p.m.
The show will be choreographed by local pyrotechnician Craig Butler and it will be the biggest fireworks show that the Augusta area has ever seen.
“People can expect the most fireworks that we’ve ever shot here. It is going to be truly amazing,” Butler said. “Due to the closeness of this show to the audience, we can’t shoot large caliber shells, but we shoot just hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of caliber shells. There are probably more shells shot in this show than in any show in Georgia or South Carolina. Period.”
Thunder Over Evans
Evans Towne Center Park
Saturday, May 21
11 a.m.-10 p.m.