Williamson  officials deem first Dirt Days event successful

Participants in the 2019 Dirt Days festival held in downtown Williamson last weekend enjoyed extensive trail riding, a mud pit, fireworks, a parade and many other activities. Several hundred ATV, dirt bike and motorcycle riders participated in the event.

Dirt Days 2019 was a weekend filled with noisy and mud covered ATVs and lots of people having a good time because of them.

“Dirt Days was beyond our wildest imagination,” said Wes Wilson, executive director of the Tug Valley Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We were absolutely blown away by the incredible response from everyone who was in attendance.”

He said that 16 states from New England to California were represented by riders and festival participants. Also, there were registered riders from Romania and Canada at the weekend event.

“A lot of these people bought an annual pass to the Hatfield-McCoy Trail System,” he went on to say. “That means they will come back again.”

While Dirt Days 2019 was an inaugural event, Wilson said he hopes it become an annual event.

“We have every intention of doing this again,” he continued. “We want it to get bigger and better each year. I can only imagine what a Dirt Days 2024 could look like.”

However, Wilson said that no official Dirt Days 2020 designation has been made yet.

“No official dates have been set. We have several things we have to address with our city council and local government in order to have the proper credentials,” he explained. “The Tug Valley CVB and Dirt Days are certainly making plans for the 2020 edition.”

Some Dirt Days 2020 sites have already been created but are not sanctioned or approved by the CVB, Wilson said. The only official site will be that posted by the CVB in the near future and vendors or participants should use only the official site when planning for next year.

He said the festival was fun and exciting, but was a learning experience at the same time. As planners work on next year’s events Wilson said they will look at things such as having portable toilets and  changing the times of events such as the parade and mud pit hours.

“We will definitely have more food booths,” he said. “We have already reached out to several food vendors who planning to be at next year’s event.”

Wilson said the most important factor in Dirt Days was the cooperation between officials, groups and individuals from both Mingo and Pike counties working together.

“I have never seen so much energy from both sides of the river put on any one event,” he said. “We are starting to market regional tourism and breaking this state line thing.”

Jim Bevins, trails coordinator for the Pike County Fiscal Court, agrees with Wilson.

“It is a classic example of a ‘win-win’ for everyone involved. The riders had a great time and they came into to Pike County and spent money here as well,” he continued. “Events like this that have joint effort can have benefits for us for decades to come. As the region grows, the communities grow. Businesses grow.”

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