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Twisted Sister frontman to headline Thunder fest

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Motorcycles on display at Catskill Mountain Thunder at the Blackthorne Resort in East Durham.
September 11, 2018 11:02 pm

DURHAM — Dee Snider told listeners in 1984 he wasn’t going to take it anymore, but he will be taking on an annual Greene County tradition.

The Twisted Sister frontman is headlining this year’s Catskill Mountain Thunder held at the Blackthorne Resort in East Durham. The event starts today and wraps up Sunday.

Snider dominated album-rock radio for a brief time in the early 1980s, snarling the hits “I Wanna Rock” and “We’re Not Going to Take It.” Today he hosts the syndicated radio show “House of Hair,” which showcases 1980s heavy metal and hard rock.

Snider is scheduled to perform Saturday night.

The event founded in 1997 by the motorcycle-loving Handel family, owners of the Blackthorne, started small, but has grown throughout the years, Blackthorne co-owner Patty Handel said.

“We are all motorcycle enthusiasts ourselves, so it was natural to have a festival,” Handel said. “My mother-in-law loved motorcycles.”

Handel and members of her family join bike-revving festivalgoers on rides, she said, adding the family’s become close with festival mainstays such as motorcycle designer Ron Finch.

“We’ve built a camaraderie with the people who come here,” Handel said.

To get top entertainment to perform, Handel’s brother-in-law Dale works with agents and works out deals, she said.

The Marshall Tucker Band, The Outlaws and 38 Special have graced the festival’s stage. She is excited to have Snider at Blackthorne for the first time.

“It was definitely my era of music,” she said.

The five-day festival begins tonight with a pub crawl where crawlers hop a bus and make stops at five area bars, Handel said. The crawl started five years ago as a way for festivalgoers to visit other parts of the county and the Blackthorne owners try to switch up the bars they go to each year.

“They have someplace else to go throughout their stay, [so] it works out well,” Handel said. “We try to go to different places every year and spread the wealth.”

Every year, the festival boasts a Wall of Death sideshow where motorcycle riders perform death-defying feats.

New to this year’s festival are extreme motocross vehicles and a 2019 Harley Davidson bike on display from the Woodstock branch of the famed motorcycle manufacturer, Handel said.

“We always have something new up our sleeves,” she said.

Many vendors who show off their wares at the Delmarva Bike Week in Maryland have expressed interest in coming to Catskill Mountain Thunder because of Hurricane Florence, which is taking aim at the Carolinas and mid-Atlantic states, Handel said.

There are no fears of hurricanes in the local forecast this weekend. The weather in East Durham is expected to be sunny and warm.

Because the Blackthorne doesn’t have any vacancies for the festival, visitors will stay at other area hotels, which provides an economic boost to the area, Handel said.

Festivalgoers can patronize local businesses such as Lawyer’s General Store.

“We have to support each other, that’s what Greene County’s all about,” she said. “Everybody benefits from this festival.”

The festival takes weeks to prepare, but Handel comes back to it every year.

“We’re not getting much sleep in the past two weeks,” Handel said. “We have an amazing staff working behind us.”