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18th annual TrailFest in Gilbert bigger, better

October 4, 2018
Gilbert will be hosting the 18th annual TrailFest this year from Oct. 4-7. Festival planners say this year's event will be bigger and better than ever.

GILBERT — The eighteenth annual TrailFest is coming to Gilbert, October 4-7, and this year it’s bigger and better than ever.

The lineup will include — but is not limited to — poker runs and dice runs, casino games and auction, factory demo rides for next year’s models, wheelie contest, and yearly staples like the costume parade, mud pits and drag strip, and fireworks.

Live bands Bakkwoodz and Bulletproof will be performing at the mud pits area Friday and Saturday night, and the Road Angels Car Show will be held at Town Hall Saturday afternoon, if the weather permits.

There will be plenty to keep the kids occupied, as well, including inflatables, battery operated drags, and youth mini motocross track.

In addition, two TV producers will be in town to film the event.

Fisher’s ATV World, which currently airs on Discovery’s Destination America and the NBC Sports Network, is hosted by Brian Fisher and showcases travel destinations, tips, and trends from the ATV industry.

Wipe Em’ Out, a Pursuit Channel Network show, is filmed and produced from West Virginia, Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio; and hosted by West Virginia natives Nick Lawrence and Derrick Esteep.

“We’re always trying to add new activities and keep things fresh,” says Mayor Vivian Livingood.

“TrailFest is huge for Gilbert. When Hatfield-McCoy Trails stopped funding the event, Gilbert jumped at the chance.” She goes on to say that the economic impact is felt throughout the year as many riders return at other times, not just during TrailFest.

Likewise, Cheryl Mitchem, administrator of the Larry Joe Harless Community Center, says that in 2015, over 80 percent of the riders were return visitors. “Every year, it’s the same names,“she says of the Community Center’s guest list.

Mitchem also mentions the Fall Festival, an indoor event held in conjunction with TrailFest for the past nine years.

This event gives exposure to small entrepreneurs and local

nonprofit organizations—something that she calls “necessary in today’s economy.”

In 2016 alone, the Fall Festival, along with the main event, brought in $10,000 to local nonprofits.

Similarly, Clayton Cline’s company, CK Coal — responsible for setting up the mud pits and drag strip every year—are permitted to host a booth during the festivities, in exchange for their efforts, in order to raise funds for the Jammie Darrin Christian Academy.

The reason the Community Center continues to participate in TrailFest, Mitchem said, is because of its impact on the local economy. “From a practical standpoint, the event is a loss for the Center when one considers the wear and tear on the facility.”

“However, it was built to impact the community,” she added, “and one of the ways it does so is by encouraging tourism in the town. After all, Mr. Harless was one of the first supporters of the Hatfield-McCoy Trails. If he could see it now, I think he’d be very pleased.”

Registration will open Thursday morning at the Larry Joe Harless Community Center.

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