Our 6th annual Mid-Atlantic Overland Festival unfurled its many tents and banners over one of the best weather weekend's we've seen at the Henwood Farm. With sunny skies and downright autumnal sleeping weather each evening at the Huntingdon, PA, campers awoke refreshed and ready for the 37 vendors and sponsors and over 50 workshops and organized activities that comprised the MAOF Festival Village and weekend-long program.
Thursday's arrivals spread out along the spacious festival camping areas above and behind the Festival Village, with Flatbed and Slide-in Four Wheel Campers finding their ground either in the upper area, or in the special FWC East Coast Owners Rally camping area where they had wide access to truck camper owners and representatives from Four Wheel Campers factory at daily presentations and forums. This year, with help from our MAOF Volunteers, we built a full wooden deck to enhance our bank of camp showers, and added another large workshop tent to the mix to allow for more classroom time and shade for daytime AV presentations. We also had great support from the team at Ridgeback Guide Service, who have been leading MLO's monthly New England Trail Ride Series. Ron Harrington and team arrived at the farm several days early to dig holes, roll logs, and place nearly 4 tons of new boulders on our village-side 4x4 Technical Course.
After a day of visual stimuli on the ground, on Thursday evening we raised our eyes to the sky thanks to Four Wheel Campers Hawk owner and Astronomer Ted Williams. For three years running, Ted has set a cosmic tone for our late summer event with his Night Sky Talks, which occur by design at the peak of the Perseid Meteor Shower. Kids and adults alike learned about the Summer Triangle, the visible planets, the location of the first lunar landing in 1969, and watched meteors streaking across the night sky with the naked eye, and a cluster of several massive telescopes calibrated by members of the Rittenhouse Astronomical Society.
Friday was a big day at the festival grounds, with more campers streaming in, and the commencement of Overland Experts' two days of driving and recovery workshops and demos. "OEX" has been a founding supporter of the Mid-Atlantic Overland Festival, and has been a yearly touchstone for festival-goers to learn more about driving well in off-road environments with a step-by-step approach, to refresh their skills and learn about new gear and best practices, and to learn or refresh on how to safely recover their vehicles in the field using various techniques and tools, such as Hi-Lift Jacks, ARB Jacks, ComeUp and Warn Winches, Soft Shackles, Kinetic Ropes, Snatch Straps, Tree Saver anchors, and more. This year we saw the return of ComeUp Winches and ARB 4x4 Accessories to the festival, as well as stalwarts Dobinsons USA and LT Wright Knives, so there were plenty of opportunities to add some of the 4x4 gear demonstrated on the field to attendees' overland travel repertoire. Title Media Sponsor Gear Patrol teamed up with Main Line Overland for a lively forum on new overland vehicle platforms, and FWC's Mike Olds discussed new camper innovations and took questions with our East Coast Owners Rally participants. That afternoon Ridgeback Guide Service held the first of their afternoon Trophy Challenges with a Driver/Spotter Challenge featuring small Jeeps all the way up to Full-Size FWC Camper rigs.
Dometic kicked off the Friday evening festivities with killer deals on their line of Mobile Cooling Fridges and Portable Batteries, and their sponsored presentation by MAOF 2019 Special Guests MAK and Owen of @bound.for.nowhere . MAK emcee'd a great talk and visual presentation about the many rigs and many ways they have lived the full-time travel life, from their first 2WD Volkswagon Vanagon, to their adventures with a Toyota Sunraider, traveling with an "adventure cat" and their current MLO-Built Tundra/Norweld/FWC Hawk Flatbed set-up aptly named "Roxanne." The evening was capped off by one of our famous bonfires with sawmill wood donated by Chuck Kurtz of Tussey Mountain Outfitters and Freeze Thaw Cycles, and of course more celestial fireworks in the summer night sky.
By Saturday we had all gotten so used to the great evening weather that we were caught off-guard by an overnight dip to nearly 50F! Many campers remained snuggled deep in their sleeping bags until the morning sun crept over Stone Mountain, with temps climbing into the high 70s and activities ramping up on the field. Saturday was a very active day on the field, with Shimano Demo'ing a large fleet of E-Bikes for attendees, and the team from Overland Solar leading an extensive workshop on mobile solutions for solar charging using their 120W Bugout 2.0 panels with both Charge Controller/ Battery combos, and Dometic's turn-key PLB40 Lithium Battery. The afternoon saw attendees going hard at timed runs on the 4x4 Technical Course, exploring on-property trails with OEX, and enjoying our Gear Patrol Sponsored Happy Hour, and donned our khakis, monocles and shemaghs for our themed happy hour dubbed the "Overlanders Ball."
Saturday evening was the perfect wrap-up to the weekend with a live duet performance by the Stone Valley Pickers, our MAOF Adventure Film Fest, followed by the pulls for our annual Charity Raffle, which raised over $2,000 for the Central PA Food Bank and local Volunteer Fire and EMS in Huntingdon.
A special thank you to our Title Sponsor, Dometic, our Title Media Sponsor, Gear Patrol, and our amazing MAOF Volunteer Corps for making MAOF 2019 such a smashing success! Next Year's festival is already shaping up to be a great one with our returning vendors and infrastructure, and will occur on August 13-16, 2020 also at the Henwood Farm in Huntingdon, PA. Have a great fall, and see you next summer!
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