Rain can't keep thousands away from ninth annual Jericho ATV Festival in BerlinBy JOHN KOZIOL
Union Leader Correspondent August 05. 2018 11:46PM
BERLIN — A few deluges only made the riding better at the 2018 Jericho ATV Festival, which wrapped on Saturday after having attracted more than 8,000 visitors, many who came in on all-terrain vehicles, to Jericho Mountain State Park in The City That Trees Built.
Sponsored by the Androscoggin Valley ATV Club and the Androscoggin Valley Chamber of Commerce, the two-day festival celebrates the 7,500-acre Mount Jericho State Park, which the state created specifically for motorized recreation.
The park boasts 80 miles of trails operated by the Androscoggin Valley ATV Club, and it is a portal to the 1,000-plus mile Ride The Wilds ATV trail system in Coos County.
The festival is a great opportunity to ride; meet up with fellow enthusiasts; check out the newest models from multiple manufacturers; and to watch the racing and grudge-runs in the biggest mud pit in New Hampshire. It is also an important economic shot in the arm for the North Country, said Stephen Clorite, president of the Androscoggin Valley ATV Club.
Clorite, who is also president of the North Country Off-Highway Recreational Vehicle Coalition, which operates Ride The Wilds, said the festival fills up hotel rooms within an hour’s drive of Berlin.
Over time, it has attracted new businesses to the area and helped expand others, he said, while also giving a bump to the local real-estate market as riders from away purchase homes on or near ATV trails or, as some people in Berlin — Clorite among them — are doing, buying vacant buildings on the cheap, fixing them up and offering them as short-term rentals for riders through Airbnb.
ATVs got some negative attention in 2018. An advisory article on the Stark Town Warrant to restrict ATV access to municipal road failed, although a lawsuit by several Gorham residents seeking to shut down a trail head in their community remains alive. Despite the adversity, the year has been a good one in other ways, Clorite said.
A law, based on a similar existing measure relative to snowmobiles, went into effect regarding the registration of ATVs.
Riders will receive a discount from the state if they register their ATV through a club, and the clubs will get a portion of the registration fee back in the form of grants for trail maintenance.
With the law on the books, the Androscoggin Valley ATV Club has seen its membership soar from 150 to 500 people, Clorite said.
He added, however, that the Jericho ATV Festival is the largest annual source of revenue for his club, which splits ticket proceeds with the chamber of commerce, and puts all of its share directly into trail maintenance, “not just repair or replacement.” Thanks to the festival, the club has also been able to buy a tractor.