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Businesses see spark in sales from AOAA event


The Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area (AOAA) saw record-breaking attendance numbers over the weekend, and some local businesses benefited from the traffic.

“Showdown in Shamokin” brought an estimated 1,885 people to the AOAA Saturday and Sunday, according to Dave Porzi, director of operations —the most amount of people to attend the park at a single time.

Porzi said he could not be any happier with how smoothly it went thanks to the professionalism of the ULTRA4 staff and the Line Mountain event teams.

Every spot at the AOAA’s Trailhead Campground was booked, and Porzi learned from visitors that some were staying 40 minutes to an hour away.

Eric Startzel, co-owner of the campground, said they booked 95 percent of their sites about two weeks ago, and the rest filled up by Friday. They added an additional 10 sites, totaling just over 60 and accommodating approximately 200 to 250 for the event.

It wasn’t the busiest the campground has ever been though, according to Startzel. In May 2017, the inaugural Wheelers Overland Adventure, presented by Wheelers LLC in conjunction with Off-Road Consulting and Quadratec, brought approximately 270 people to Trailhead Campground for a weekend.

Startzel said they are looking for more sites to add for the summer and hope to reach their final goal of 125 sites.

People traveled from across the country to participate in Saturday’s ULTRA4 event, and a lucky few were able to benefit from sparse local accommodations.

Friday night brought guests to Beagle’s Bed and Breakfast, Paxinos, said owner Georgia Beagle, but Saturday had been previously booked for another event. She said visitors of the AOAA have given the bed and breakfast great business year-round, with the place conveniently located between the AOAA grounds and Knoebels Amusement Resort.

The 80 degree temperatures Friday and Saturday were ideal for opening weekend of the patio at the Wayside Inn, Shamokin, and kitchen manager Sarah Stellar said it worked out perfectly for the ULTRA4 event, bringing a lot of visitors out at night. Friday was so busy she said she couldn’t pay attention to see how many clients were from the AOAA, but she knows many were there.

A huge group walked through the door Saturday night following the day’s events, and people were happy to continue enjoying being outside while sitting on the patio.

The rooms above the restaurant were booked by people attending the event, and Stellar said the influx is always seen when a big event is held at the AOAA.

“Every time there is something at the AOAA, our rooms are booked. No vacancy. No room at the inn,” she said.

Brewser’s SportsGrille in Coal Township was prepared for the crowds, and kitchen manager Tammy Wetzel said the waitresses were kept busy during the day Friday as people got into town to register for the event. The parking lot was filled with vehicles towing trailers with their equipment.

A lot of reservations were made Saturday, and she believes some were from the event but can’t say for certain. She said she believes they didn’t receive the large crowds due to food vendors being at the event, but they still brought in business from the out-of-towners.