July 30, 2012 - by Barbara Tetrault, The Berlin Reporter
BERLIN - The two day Jericho ATV Festival attracted close to 2,000 riders who enjoyed the mud pit races, displays, demo rides, food concessions, and 80 miles of trails at Jericho Mountain State Park.
Local merchants and hospitality people said they enjoyed the sound of cash registers ringing over the weekend as the riders ate at local restaurants, rented hotel and lodging rooms, and purchased gas and supplies.
"The ATV Festival was a huge success," said Mayor Paul Grenier. Androscoggin Valley Chamber of Commerce spokeswoman Paula Kinney yesterday said beds were in demand over the weekend with many hotels and motels in the middle of the peak summer lodging season.
Restaurants and eateries reported a heavy turnout from riders. The city opened up all city streets to ATV traffic for the festival and Saturday night, a line of ATVs were parked on Main Street in Berlin.
Randy Cicchetto, owner of Jericho Motorsports, said he sold nine ATVs and a lot of inventory over the festival. "It was unbelievable," he said.
"This is a great economic boost for the area," said Berlin Main Street Program head Sylvia Poulin. Poulin worked at the festival Saturday and estimated that more than half of those attending came from outside the region. Kinney and Cicchetto agreed, noting many riders traveled here from southern New England and Maine.
"Everyone I talked to had a wonderful time. There were very few complaints," said Cicchetto, who is a member of the Androscoggin Valley ATV Club which organized the event. The city was a major sponsor with a $4,200 donation and the chamber also helped organize the event.
Kinney said riders were pleased with the trail system and beauty of the 7,500-acre park and she said many indicated a desire to come back. The state opened the new 20-site campground under development at Jericho on a temporary basis just for the weekend. N.H. Bureau of Trails Director Chris Gamache said the bureau received tremendous compliments on it. He said his bureau is working on its campground permit with the state Department of Environmental Services and hopes to open it soon on a full-time seasonal basis.
"Next year should see even more improvements at the park, as a whole, and the Jericho ATV Festival," Gamache promised. He said the Androscoggin Valley ATV Club, the city, and the various partners should be commended for running another fabulous event with volunteers.
The festival opened Friday with a poker run, mud pit grudge runs, and an ATC obstacle course. Cicchetto said the club made over $10,000 on the poker run. He said the money will be used to cover the club�s costs to organize the festival. Any money left over will be go to develop the ATV trail system in the area.
The mud pit races took place Saturday with over $1,000 awarded in cash prizes. Winners were: stock class, Craig Dion, Hope Bowen, and Kevin Barlow; improved class, Travis York and Wayne Bullock; modified, Travis York, Jeff Beauregard, and Derek Berube, and UTV, Ron Dagesse.
Throughout the day, concession stands offered wood-fired pizza, pulled-pork sandwiches, hot dogs and hamburgers, and Hawaiian shaved ice. Poulin and Cicchetto said planning will get underway soon for next year�s festival. Both said better signage was identified as a need but said overall the festival went off smoothly this year.
"I think it was a great thing for the communities of Berlin and Gorham," said Poulin.