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By: CJ Rena Johnson

Hatfield-McCoy TrailFest 2009: an Off-Roader’s Heaven on Earth

Fueling up
Fueling up

The Mud Pit
The Mud Pit

Lining Up For Parade
Lining Up For Parade

View of Road from the Top of the World
View of Road from the Top of the World

TrailFest Vendors
TrailFest Vendors

Wedding in the Mud Pit
Wedding in the Mud Pit

The 9th Annual Hatfield-McCoy National TrailFest in Gilbert, WV went off once again without a hitch! In a town with a general population of just over 200, they sure know how to make room for a couple of thousand ATVers.

We arrived early on Friday morning and were immediately impressed with how well they were organized. Events were planned for the entire weekend. Vendors were set up, showing their products, and giving demo rides of their vehicles. TrailFest Entertainment and Special Events were also getting underway around town and inside the Larry Joe Harless Community Center. The Trail System was perfectly groomed and ready for the load of riders that always attend their annual TrailFest.

The Hatfield-McCoy Trail System

Of all the events and wonderful things going on, the trail system still seemed to be at the top of the list for the weekend. Besides, what is an ATV Trail Festival without awesome trails on which to ride? The Hatfield-McCoy Trail System definitely had that covered with some of the best off-road trails in America. I am not alone when I say they are some of my favorite trails on the east coast.

One of the reasons this place tops my list of favorite places to ride is because it is so ATV friendly. I love being able to pull into town, park my jeep and trailer, unload my RZR and ride it anywhere I want to go the rest of the time I am there. I can go get gas, get something to eat, do a little shopping, and then head right back out on the trail without ever leaving my RZR behind.

Types of Trails

They have all kinds of trails for everyone from easy to difficult to suit every type of rider from beginner to extreme. They are all very well marked and can be followed easily even by the newest of riders. They have everything from single dirt bike tracks to open-share areas, which were open to everyone including jeeps, horses, hikers and others.

The trails were very UTV-friendly as well. I met riders on everything from dirt bikes to sport quads, to utility ATVs and a wide variety of side-x-sides. We rode all the way from Gilbert to Man and never had any trouble whatsoever in our Polaris Ranger RZR side-x-side.

TrailFest Events

After a quick trip up on the trails to get the juices flowing, we went back to the community center, looked over the schedule of events and started planning our weekend.

TrailFest events this year included:

  • Poker and Dice Runs for Cash
  • Factory Ride Demos
  • ATV, UTV and Dirt Bike Costume Parade, where they continue to try and break the world record for longest ATV Parade (481 was the total for this year)
  • Nightly Drag Racing and Mud Pit Action
  • Saturday night Competition Mud Pit Run for Cash and Prizes
  • Fireworks on Saturday night
  • Casino Night with Roulette and then Live Auction for Prizes using HMTS money won in the Roulette
  • Catered Meals on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (breakfast and dinner were complimentary to registered guests)
  • Special Quests included Fishers ATV World and others

TrailFest Entertainment and Special Events:

To top off all the events, there were also many different kinds of entertainment and special events going on including:

  • Karaoke
  • Music and Dancing ( Including some great Line Dancers)
  • A Separate Autumn Festival inside the Larry Joe Harless Community Center
  • Shopping. All sorts of HMTS merchandise was available inside the Community Center as well in the many different shops around town.
  • There was even a wedding that took place in the Mud Pit this year

The Wedding

Richard Lafferty and Cindy Shriner were married in the mud pit just before the races on Saturday night. Even though it wasn’t planned prior to the event, it was still a huge success in the end. That was the second wedding, according to my source, that has taken place at TrailFest. There was one last year as well. However, it took place out on the trail. I wonder if this is becoming a trend with TrailFest.

Onsite Amenities:

Onsite Amenities for Participation Pass holders included limited access to the Larry Joe Harless Community Center, which provided:

  • Indoor Restrooms
  • Indoor Showers
  • Locker Rooms

Vendors and Demo Rides

The vendor area was hopping all weekend with many different types of vendors such as Kendra ATV Tires, Tucker Rocky, Logan Motor Cycles Sales, Polaris, Kawasaki and many more. There were even demo rides available at the Yamaha, Can-Am and the KTM booths throughout the weekend.

ATV Friendliness

Not only are the local laws very ATV-friendly, so are the people. Everyone seems genuinely happy to have ATVers there. The Hatfield-McCoy Trail System has had a massive impact on the economy of the Gilbert and nearby communities and topping that list is the Annual National TrailFest.

This year was no exception. Even though it rained on and off Friday and Saturday, there were still over 2,000 people in attendance for the 9th Annual Hatfield-McCoy National TrailFest. Every one of them I asked about next year said they could not wait to come back again. Me, either.

Gilbert, WV October 7-11, 2010

Start now making your plans and reservations for the 10th Anniversary of the Hatfield-McCoy Trail System and National TrailFest, which promises to be even better including all the things they had this year plus some great new ones.

To find out more about the 2009 and 2010 Annual TrailFests, please go to their official website at

Remember: Wherever you ride, always TREAD LIGHTLY, leaving the area the same or better than you found it.

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