ATV festival

ATV festival

A rider with the ATV Big Air Tour gets his quad ATV high into the air at the Jericho ATV Festival in 2019. This year’s event has been canceled due to the pandemic, but the state park will open this weekend.

BERLIN — Motorized sports venue Jericho Mountain State Park will open Saturday, with restrictions, but the 2020 Jericho ATV Festival has been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Located off Route 110, Jericho Mountain features more than 80 miles of trails for ATVs, UTVs, trail bikes, and snowmobiles. The park also boast a 4x4 trail, a 20 site ride-in/ride-out campground, cabins, a bathhouse overlooking Jericho Lake and a Visitors Center.

Since 2000, however, the park has been known as the home of the Jericho ATV Festival, which this year would have been held on July 31 and Aug. 1.

The festival in 2019 drew upwards of 8,000 visitors.

The popularity of the festival, said organizers at the Androscoggin Valley Chamber of Commerce and the Androscoggin Valley ATV Club, led to their decision to cancel it because of concerns about the pandemic.

“It wasn’t an easy decision,” the chamber and club wrote on the chamber’s Facebook page recently, noting that “the timing of the uncertainty surrounding the outbreak has contributed to significant challenges in planning the Festival as many vendors and manufacturers are dealing with the same uncertainty, with a number of vendors having already cancelled, with more anticipated to follow suit.”

With fewer vendors and manufacturers attending, the 2020 festival risked offering a greatly diminished experience to everyone, organizers said, while “…a failed Jericho ATV Festival in 2020 would jeopardize the Committee’s ability to host future festivals.”

“This will be a HUGE hit to our already struggling economy that many small businesses are facing. But we know in our hearts it was the correct decision for the health and welfare of everyone,” wrote organizers.

On Monday, Chris Gamache, who is chief of the NH Bureau of Trails, said in addition to local businesses hurt by the cancelation of the festival, the state would lose rooms and meals taxes, gas taxes, “and some percentage of registrations” of new ATVs, many of which are purchased at the festival.

Gamache said Jericho Mountain will open on May 23, which is its traditional opening date, but added that he is waiting to hear back from Gov. Chris Sununu’s reopening task force on an updated plan that his office submitted last week. Both the campground and visitors center, will be closed, he said.