Constructing a Trailhead Event Area for the off-highway vehicle park that includes an open pavilion, space for vendors, rest rooms, and all-weather storage for trail maintenance equipment.
The Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area Authority (AOAA), under the auspices of the Northumberland County Commissioners, has taken 6,500 acres of County owned abandoned coal lands and turned it into a premier motorized and non-motorized outdoor recreation facility.
In 2015, RTP funds in the amount of $420,090 (awarded in 2014) funded a 4,000 sq. foot Trailhead Event Area that was designed and built for multiple purposes. The design accommodates multiple small events or a single large event. The Trailhead Event Area is a unique 40’ x 100’ combination open pavilion/enclosed market space facility.
On May 17, 2014, the Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area opened for business with approximately 300 miles of trails for motorized use. After being open for one year and acquiring a Polaris side by side, two Yamaha side by sides, a T590 track loader, a Kubota MX5200 tractor, and a pull behind mower, the need for additional storage space was realized. A 1,500 sq. foot garage maintenance building was designed and erected with the help of $250,000 RTP funds that were awarded in 2013. The secondary garage was designed to be adjacent to the existing Visitor’s Center so it can be monitored and provide a secure area for all-weather storage of the AOAA’s maintenance equipment.
In 2015, RTP funds in the amount of $420,090 (awarded in 2014) funded a 4,000 sq. foot Trailhead Event Area that was designed and built for multiple purposes. The design accommodates multiple small events or a single large event.
The Trailhead Event Area is a unique 40’ x 100’ combination open pavilion and enclosed market space facility. The facility accommodates four secure vendor areas that can be rented by various vendors including food, accessory, maintenance or any others offering services to the AOAA visitors. The facility also allows for meeting/gathering areas for visitors using the vendors or to schedule group meetings before riding the trails. The Event Area development also included an expanded visitor parking area and ADA accessible parking spaces.
The four bay building is used for motorized and non-motorized events at the AOAA. Among the vendors who use the event center is Jeep Jamboree USA for their three day trail event that is held at the AOAA twice each year. Over 200 participants will utilize the Event Center to sign up for designated trail routes, participate in the vendor show, pick up their bagged lunches, purchase additional food/drinks from the vendors, and use rest room facilities before heading out for a full day on the trails.
The Trailhead Event Area is also used for community fund raising events such as the Children’s Miracle Network Annual Benefit Ride and the Shamokin Visiting Nurse Association’s Annual 5k race. In addition, a collection of canned food is undertaken at the Visitor’s Center during Thanksgiving weekend activities and donated to the local food pantry, Manna for the Many.
Twice each year clean-ups are held, one in conjunction with the Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful Program and the other in the fall. April’s clean-up had 200 participants who met at the event area for their assignments and after the clean-up was provided lunch and prize drawings before heading off to ride the trails for a free afternoon.
Last year after the April clean-up Professor Mary Beth Gray from Bucknell University gave a lecture at the Event Center on the Whaleback which was the designated clean-up site. The Event Area is also used by the AOAA staff to hold community events such as the annual Easter Egg Hunt, Halloween Party, and 4th of July festivities. Visit with Santa and Christmas activities are held in the conference room at the Trailhead Visitor’s Facility.
The conference room is used by outside organizations for meetings and luncheons. It is also used by the AOAA Authority for their monthly workshop sessions and Authority meetings, all of which are open to the public.
In keeping with their branding of “Recreational Opportunities for OHVs,” the AOAA has always included people with disabilities. On several occasions staff and Authority members have taken autistic children on the trails in side by sides.
The Authority has met with gentlemen from Access to Adventure who purchased a house within a few miles of the AOAA. They will be conducting full size vehicle tours for disabled people to give them the opportunity to enjoy outdoor recreation. The AOAA has a paid staff of eight in addition to the five volunteer Authority members who keep this vital economic engine project moving forward. In addition to the numerous grants that have, and continue to, support this project, the facility is maintained through visitors’ pass sales and AOAA themed merchandise sales.
The AOAA is also supported and maintained by numerous volunteers, groups and organizations. The source of the numerous matching funds for the grants awarded to date include: Polaris Industries, Inc.; Yamaha Motor Corp.; Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources; Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development; Department of Environmental Protection, Bureau of Abandoned Mine Reclamation; Appalachian Regional Commission; Children’s Miracle Network; Williams Transco Pipeline; and The Conservation Fund.