By CASEY CROUCHER
Amsterdam's Shuttleworth Park will host the fourth annual Rock the Park event Saturday evening.
Dan Nelli, event organizer and assistant general manager of the Amsterdam Mohawks, said this year's event is expected to be the biggest Rock the Park yet.
"This is the first time in upstate New York that there will be amateur boxing and amateur mixed martial arts going on at the same time at the same venue," Nelli said. "So this year's event is very unique to the area."
Nelli said the first two years of Rock the Park the event didn't host any fights, but last year they brought in amateur MMA and it "seemed to be a very big draw."
To build on last year's success, Nelli decided to add boxing to the list to draw even more people to the park.
He said local MMA fighters Pablo Olivera and Jay Alvarado will fight in the cage, while local boxer Karl Baia will be in the ring. The fights start at 6 p.m. and go until about 9 p.m. and there's "upwards of 20 fights scheduled the entire night," he said.
Saturday's event will also include a car and bike show from 3 to 6 p.m. with cash prizes for contestants, including Top Car and Bike of the Day, Best Paint Job, Most Unique and Most Radical Engine. The bands Run for Cover and Tunnel will perform all evening, including during the fights, and finishing in-sync with a fireworks show.
Nelli hopes to have more than 1,000 people show up for Rock the Park.
"This is just something different we can use the park for other than baseball," he said. "If you're not a baseball fan this is just another reason to get to the park. We try to entice people to come down and enjoy Shuttleworth Park as much as possible."
Nelli said the event usually brings in a younger crowd, which was his goal when it first started.
"I personally feel that sometimes there isn't a lot to do for the age group of 20 to 35 and this is just an event to get the community together outside of baseball and hopefully have a great day and enjoy the park for things other than baseball," he said.
Saturday's Rock the Park will cost $15 for a day pass, which will allow people to leave the park and come back as many times as they please.
For car and bike contestants, the cost to enter is $5, and Nelli said if groups of more than 20 people are interested in coming to the event together, he can arrange a special group discount if they call his cell phone in advance at 320-4868.