GILBERT — There is nothing more beautiful than watching the Appalachian mountains set on fire when the leaves begin to change to red, yellow and orange. However the leaves starting to turn are a sign that it is almost time for something else.
Trailfest 2015 is right around the corner (October 8-12) and the the town of Gilbert has been working diligently with Hatfield and McCoy Trails to ensure that this year continues the tradition and legacy of past events.
Due to recent changes to state regulation, Hatfield and McCoy Trails could no longer sponsor Trailfest, but were positive that they wanted the event to continue.
It will continue in the hands of someone they could trust, the town of Gilbert. Hatfield and McCoy Trails offered the event to the town of Gilbert as a partnership with the Larry Joe Harless Community Center (LJHCC). The town and the center accepted the offer and immediately began going to work on the event with the help of that trails organization.
Gilbert Mayor Vivian Livingood says that the goal for this year is to make the event into a week-long street fair but as far as changes, you won’t be able to notice very many.
“We hope to stick to last year as much as possible,” said Livingood. “We want everyone to see that we are not trying to change up a good thing and we don’t want to take the chance on making any changes during this transition year that the crowds would not like.”
Trailfest is an event like no other and according to ATVsource.com is one of the best ATV events on the east coast. Just as much as Trailfest is good entertainment for those that join the town for the festivities. Trailfest is a huge economy boost for the local businesses and vendors who choose to set up food stands on the streets.
Mayor Livingood hopes that everyone who is interested in setting up a booth will do so and is especially hopeful that local churches will join in on the fun. During Trailfest you can find home baked goods, spaghetti dinners, snow cones and more alongside the street for ATV riders to pull up and enjoy between hitting the trails. In order to set up a booth, you must have a food handlers card although churches are except. The next food handlers class is September 14, 1:00 at the Sycamore Inn in Williamson.
Trailfest not only brings in thousands of ATV riders but it also brings in multiple vendors each year including Suzuki who has agreed to come back to Trailfest 2015. Vendors that set up have merchandise available but also do demo shows and demo rides.
If riding the trails isn’t your thing, there are still activities that you can do. There will be a town wide scavenger hunt, casino night, poker runs and a fireworks show that you will not forget. You can also participate in zip lining and watch the fun as ATV after ATV struggle to make it through the infamous Trailfest mud pit.
ATV riders will pull into town and register at the LJHCC where they will be given a registration packet and goody bags for participants. There are 1,000 goody bags that need to be filled and Livingood is asking that local businesses who are interested in placing any merchandise in the bags to please do so by September 15 or let Gilbert town hall know your plans to. Business cards, flyers, coupons, ink pens, rulers etc are all examples of merchandise that can be placed in the bags.
Mayor Livingood is asking that anyone wanting to volunteer for Trailfest would be greatly appreciated.
“This is going to have to be an event that the community gets involved in,” said Livingood. “We don’t have the staff to do this ourselves. We need help with registration and we will be hiring three workers to help set up for the event.”
Gilbert’s own Thomas White will be playing at the mud pit area on Friday night followed by BulletProof band on Saturday.
The drag strip and the mud pit are where you will find the majority of the town during the weekend nights. People will be allowed to walk in the area free of charge but anyone wanting to participate in the drag strip races or going through the pit will pay a fee of twenty five dollars.
“Friday is of course the ATV parade that everyone has come to love. We will have times posted on a schedule that is coming very soon and Sunday is local day where we invite all of the locals to come and enjoy the fun,” said Livingood. “We are adding a kid’s race to the Sunday activities so that children under 6-years old can bring their battery operated cars/trucks/ATV’s to each each other down the drag strip and prizes will be given out. It won’t be about going fast but about having fun.”
Trailfest 2015 will be a turning point for Gilbert and for the region as it is a transition year but Livingood is confident in the town’s ability to make it the best year yet.
“This event not only brings money to our community, but it brings people that love our hospitality and they want to come back for another visit. This event showcases our town and how we welcome visitors. Tourism is the best thing we have going for us right now and we must learn ways to tap into this resource. Trailfest is a very important part of that. We need this. We need to give it our all and make it successful.
If you are interested in volunteering for Trailfest or want to learn more about registering you and your family for Trailfest, you can contact Gilbert town hall at 304-664-9625.
Madalin Sammons is a reporter for the Gilbert Times. Madalin can be reached at [email protected] or by phone at 304-664-8225.