Having never participated previously in any Jamboree it was rather difficult to anticipate exactly what it may be like in reality. I'm not quite sure what my expectations were, but when it came right down to it, I was very pleasantly surprised by the event and the association with hundreds of new people from all over the country and several foreign nations.
I don't mind admitting that I took every opportunity to chat with people and share the gospel of the Utah ATV Trails web site while there. The place was just jam packed with people who were excited about ATV everything. Allegorically speaking, you could say that it was like a meeting of the Tabernacle Choir, only their harmonies came from the chatter on their conversation and the hum of their exhaust pipe.
The first morning brought everyone out in droves to the center of the Richfield Park. The place was just packed with ATVs I can hardly imagine the graciousness of the City fathers who permitted such an extraordinary gathering. Registration started early and closed promptly at 9:30. It was well organized and each registrant required only a moment to pick up their packet of information and goodies. Tee Shirts and soda mugs were distributed to all registrants, along with US flag signs and a mountain of coupons for various local merchants there in Richfield and some surrounding venues.
By the time we had gone through our packets and put on our participant badges a meeting was called together by the former director of the activity, Roger Foisey. Roger explained how he had retired from the leadership of the program after ten years and how Sevier County had taken up the lead of the activity. Kevin, a county employee, was introduced and the official change of command was evident. The former leaders of the event were introduced and thanked for their labors of love over such a remarkable period. Several of the leaders will be honored by having a trail named after them for time in memorium. It is a small recognition, but at least it is a recognition.
We were then introduced to the leaders from the US Forest Service and the BLM in the local area. Each of them had appropriate warnings on the aspect of Tread Lightly and Staying on the trail. The County Sheriff's Captain informed people of the legal requirements of utilizing the city and county roads and solemnly warned people about using alcohol and drugs while riding.
At about 11:30 after all the politicians had finished their speeches the parade down Main Street in Richfield began. Each of the participants hopped on their machines and encircled the city park bumper to bumper four to six machines abreast. It was actually quite amazing that with over 600 ATV motors running it was still possible to carry on a reasonable conversation with the person next to you.
While there were many youthful riders in the group, Far and away the majority were people of maturity and experience. I would guess the average age to be somewhere in the mid FIFTIES. There were folks there from practically every state in the Union as well as Canada, Costa Rica and Mexico. It was not the least like the events held at Sturgis North Dakota where the Motorcyclists hold their unlimited (and uncontrolled) bash each year. If anything, you could say that it was probably the exact opposite. Every gathering was patient and orderly and there were no loud voices no arguing no fighting. Everyone was getting along better than if it was a great big family reunion. I approached hundreds of people and spoke with them and none, absolutely none of them were put off or offended that a stranger would speak to them.
Life back at the hotel quickly turned into an event mildly reminiscent of a college dorm. Only without the loud and boisterous demeanor. People gathered out side on the sidewalk around their bikes and conversed in every US accent imaginable. Remarkable praise was offered for every clever thing that was discovered by these imagination packed inventors. When one rider returned after a difficult day on the trail due to mechanical problems he was quickly surrounded by people offering suggestions and others with more mechanical expertise. Duane, the owner from Georgia, mentioned that he felt as though he was surrounded by the NASCAR pit crew. Before the sun hit the mountain in the west the whole ATV had been gone over with a fine tooth comb and the problem had been solved. By the way. It was either the choke that was stuck or the replacement of the low altitude jets for high altitude jets. At any rate, Duane's week was not spoiled and he continued on the very next day with all the confidence in the world that he could make it on an 80 mile trail.
Speaking of trails, after all the Jamboree is really about trails, not just the social and economic aspect of the gathering, The Jamboree offered some 60 different trails to ride. Each trail offering had no less than two volunteers who participated in the trail. Larger groups had more volunteers to help conduct traffic on the trail. There was typically someone to lead the group and another person to follow to make sure that there were no mishaps along the way. The larger groups had a third or fourth person to make sure that there were no wrong turns along the way in the midst of the group. Medically trained people were included in every riding group possible.
I had been told that the use of helmets was not a common practice at the Jamboree. Apparently helmets have come into style. While out on the trail there were only a very few who did not use their helmets during the rides. All the ride guides were setting the example with their helmets on. I noticed that as the week went on, that there were several new helmets to join the group and fewer non helmeted individuals were showing up for the rides.
Each morning the routine was the same. Arrive at the park by 7:30 and get your hot chocolate and cinnamon roll, plus an apple or banana for the trail. By the time you had consumed your food, you were gathering with those joining you for the day's ride at the various numbered stations along the perimeter of the park. For those who were riding directly from the park, they would show up riding their ATVs. Those who had to trailer to the trailhead would haul their machines to the park and park on the side streets. They would meet standing at the flag that represented their trail number.
Preregistration of rides helped in distributing the people out through out the various opportunities. There were rides designed for every skill level on every day. The most challenging ride was the Mountain Man ride that spanned three days, Tuesday through Friday and the goal was to circumnavigate the entire Paiute Trail in that time. This group of hearty souls showed up on Tuesday Morning with their machines packed to the gills with their camping gear and fuel for the ride. This was no doubt where the majority of our youthful population disappeared to for the remainder of the week. They all returned safely on Friday with several days growth of beard evident on their smiling sunburned faces.
Before the rides began the ride guides would go over the ground rules so that everyone clearly understood what was expected from them and safety was always stressed as a major consideration.
For many the opportunity to stay the whole week was not in the cards. The Jamboree organizers were not at all put off by the partial week participants whether they came early and left early or came late and left late. There was no discount for partial week participation, but there was still plenty of fun to go around.
There were meals held in the park on Monday Wednesday and Saturday evening. One lucky participant walked away with a new Kawasaki Prairie 350 for the pleasure of entering the drawing.
The park was lined with vendors displaying their wares and no doubt doing more business in one week than they have for many months.
They say that registration was down for this year, but as near as I can tell the jamboree was still a smashing success. Many people who have participated in the Jamboree in years past still come out and ride the trails on their own each year, People come from all over to take in the breath taking views and marvelous hospitality of the people of Southern Utah.
The remarkable thing about this event is quite plainly the number of volunteers who took time off work to be a trail guide, food server, first aid attendant, or simply man the information booth. There were hundreds of these volunteers. They seem as dedicated to this as they are to their own religion, what ever that may be. No event of this magnitude could ever happen without the assistance of all these volunteers who quietly took their assignments and made the whole thing a reality. The Sevier County government may have taken leadership over the event, but you can count on the fact that it is the people that volunteer who are the ones who deliver the experience. The Southern Utah ATV Club was one of the organizers of the volunteers.
For hundreds of people the event is an annual event that they wouldn't miss. Several I spoke with had been there many years in a row. I can see why. It is an event that is perfect for making new friends and sharing the love of the outdoors. There is an excellent chance that I have joined this group. I'm looking forward to the next jamboree already. We could use a dozen or so of these events in this state. You just can't hit every trail from Richfield.
The rides were amazing. Here are links to the descriptions of the rides we participated in as part of the Rocky Mountain ATV Jamboree:
For information on the next Rocky Mountain ATV Jamboree, just click here