West Virginia’s celebration of National Hunting and Fishing Days, canceled last year due to COVID-19 concerns, will resume in September, but at a new location — the Summit Bechtel Scouting Reserve, Gov. Jim Justice announced on Wednesday.
This year’s Hunting and Fishing Days event will take place in conjunction with a stop at Summit Bechtel by the Grand National Cross Country pro-am race series for off-track ATV, motorcycle and electric-assisted mountain bike racers.
The two events, along with public access to Summit Bechtel’s zip lines, shooting and archery ranges, fishing ponds, climbing walls, BMX courses, mountain bike trails and the nation’s second-largest outdoor skate park, create a new event: “Adventure On! Freedom Fest” on Sept. 9-12.
“It will be a tribute to America’s first responders, 20 years after 9/11,” said Bill Garrett, Summit Bechtel’s senior business development officer.
Garrett and other organizers are hopeful that “Adventure On! Freedom Fest” will become an annual event, eventually becoming the nation’s largest hands-on outdoor adventure expo.
“We want families to come here and see the latest and greatest new gear, try the new shotguns and ride the new motorcycles” brought to the event by vendors, Garrett said.
Held for decades at Stonewall Jackson Lake State Park, the Hunting and Fishing Days event has drawn crowds of more than 10,000 outdoor sports enthusiasts, along with those interested in taking up hunting, fishing and other outdoor pursuits.
The event is staffed mainly by state Division of Natural Resources personnel, with the National Wildlife Federation providing financial support.
Summit Bechtel is one of 13 stops on this year’s GNCC race series, which stretches from March to October at venues in Pennsylvania, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Indiana, Ohio and Tennessee.
The Sept. 9-12 stop at the 14,000-acre Boy Scouts of America Jamboree site, in Fayette County, is one of three races taking place in West Virginia this year, along with Snowshoe Mountain in Pocahontas County and Newburg in Preston County.
This year’s race will mark the third consecutive year that GNCC racing has taken place at Summit Bechtel. Riders from across the country, as well as Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand, take part in the competition, which is televised on several cable and streaming networks.
The racing series traces its roots to the Blackwater 100 motorcycle and ATV race staged from Davis through northern Canaan Valley from the mid-1970s to early 1990s, promoted by the late Dave Combs, founder of the Morgantown company promoting the GNCC.
On Saturday, Sept. 11, “Adventure On! Freedom Fest” will host a concert and laser/fireworks show at the Summit’s outdoor amphitheater that will be free to first responders and active duty military personnel.