Nyssa is ready to rock at Thunderegg Days

Nyssa’s annual Thunderegg Days festival opens Thursday and runs through Saturday. Originally focused on the unique rocks created from volcanic ash layers, the event now features a wide variety of entertainment. (The Enterprise/File).

NYSSA – Greg Armenta was driving by the Nyssa High School football field in May when the idea hit.

The night was like a hundred others for the Nyssa Police Department corporal. He knew it was the time of the high school senior party and as he drove by the football field he wasn’t expecting anything unusual.

Then, he saw the bubbles. Big plastic bubbles, big enough to hold a person, slamming into each other. The youth, he said, appeared to be having a lot of fun inside the big plastic balls.

“I was watching and thought, ‘you know there maybe something to this. Maybe we could use this to help the community,’” said Armenta.

Right there the idea for the first Nyssa Police Department Bubble Ball Tournament at the Thundereggs Days and Festival was born.

Armenta said thinking about those bubble balls “makes me laugh every time.”

The bubble ball fundraiser is one of the last events of the three-day annual festival in Nyssa. Sponsored by the Nyssa Chamber of Commerce & Agriculture, Thunderegg Days begins at noon Thursday and runs until 9:30 p.m. Saturday when a fireworks display will cap the event. The festival is at the Nyssa Elementary School.

Each day, the festival offers events that run the gamut from the Outlaw Lawn Mower Dragsters to daily rock hound tours to concerts, a car show and a breakfast with all the fixings at the Nyssa Senior Center.

Jon Wood, the second vice president of the Nyssa Chamber, said “there is something for everybody – just a lot to do.”

Wood said the 53rd annual festival features several new events this year, including the bubble ball tournament, the fireworks display and a 3-on-3 basketball tournament. The basketball tournament will be held at the hoop courts next to the Nyssa School District office.

“We are also adding antique tractors to the car show,” said Wood.

He said local rock hound Bill Nance will once again lead tours in search of thundereggs around Nyssa.

The tours begin each day at 7 a.m. at the Nyssa Elementary School parking lot. Cost is $5 per car load.

There will also be two concerts held on the Malheur Federal Credit Union Stage at the middle school – one by Poison Creek at 8 p.m. Friday and another by Train Wreck at 7 p.m. Saturday – and a family movie night at Nyssa’s South Park Friday night at sundown.

“We want to grow this thing, make it something that the Treasure Valley wants to come to,” said Wood.

Armenta said the bubble ball tournament is set for 8:30 p.m. Saturday at the Nyssa High School football field.

He said teams from the Nyssa fire and police departments, Les Schwab, Treasure Valley Paramedics and Munk Dental are scheduled to compete compete. The cost for each team to enter the tournament is $100, said Armenta. Spectators can watch the tournament for $2.

“I am still looking for more teams, I’d love to have more out there,” said Armenta.

Armenta said anyone interested in participating can reach him at 541-212-2385.

The tournament will consist of a “kick-the-can format” said Armenta.

“There will be five players on each team and then there will be four cans on each side. So you have to run over to the other side and knock off their cans before they knock over yours,” said Armenta.

A portion of the proceeds from the festival and the bubble ball tournament will be donated to repair vandalism at the Hilltop Memorial Cemetery outside of town.

An annual event for more than five decades, at the heart of the Nyssa festival is the thunderegg, a nodule-like rock created by volcanic ash layers.

The thunderegg is the state rock and in Native American legend the nodules were considered to be the eggs of the thunderbirds that occupied Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson.

Reporter Pat Caldwell: [email protected] or 541-473-3377.