[Event Report] 2017 Mid-Atlantic Overland Festival

Each year a few hundred overland adventure enthusiasts descend upon the Henwood Farm near Huntingdon, Pennsylvania.  The Henwoods are a trio of brothers behind the Main Line Overland shop in southeast, PA.  The Mid-Atlantic Overland Festival is their way to bring together like minded enthusiasts and celebrate the overland adventure lifestyle.

It’s that time again.
2017 Mid-Atlantic Overland Festival
http://www.overlandfestival.com

For me attending MAOF is a no brainer.  First, it’s an overland event on the east coast.  So if I wasn’t there, y’all would serious question exactly what it is I do here.  Second, it’s practically in my back yard.  Of all the overland lifestyle events up and down the east coast and across the country this one is by far the closest one.  Easy choice.  This year marks my third year attending the MAOF and, in many ways, it was the best.  Read on to find out why…

Pre-Flight & Departure

As with any trip, before it can begin there must be preparation.  Since MAOF is in my backyard it’s an easy trip to prep for.  I left a lot of my tools and spare parts at home because, and I’ll be honest here, I have AAA and if something goes wrong I can get towed home.  As such, all I really needed to pack for the weekend was food and clothing.

Check out that rear suspension.  So happy to have the airbags back there now.
Beyond that, I’m stoked to hit MAOF with the new awning and room kit Bomber Products hooked me up with.
Especially since I’m expecting some guests for the weekend.

Once everything was loaded it was time to head to MAOF.  Normally I would just bounce over the mountain and be there in about an hour.  This time I was taking a detour to connect with Steve and Phil from Outdoor Junkie Company (formally of Overland Jeep Gear) for some lunch at a local pizza and brew pub.

Overlanders, roll out!

So many choices.
Gotta love small local businesses.
Also love small businesses that support each other.  Most all of these beers are from PA.

Although she’s built for rougher terrain, I think she looks mighty fine wherever she goes.

Arrival and Setup (Thursday)

After lunch it was a 90 minute drive up through central PA.  Quite literally an “over the mountain and through the woods” drive.

I’m used to being an early arrival.
This time around there were already a few dozen rigs.
A few of which stole my primo spot from last year.

Once camp was setup it was time to walk the vendor area.
First stop, UJoint Offroad.
They made the trip up from NC with a pair of 4wd converted vans.
I think I need to stop in their shop in the fall.

Main Line Overland hosted the opening happy hour.
Always fun to share a few beers and a few adventure stories with like minded people.

It was a brief day, but the weather was perfect.
A marked improved over last year’s heat and humidity.

A day of adventure (Friday)

One of my running jokes is that there’s nothing ‘overland’ about an overland event.  Most of the time you drive to the event, setup camp, and then just hang out.  This year the MAOF team decided to sprinkle in an overland adventure as part of the show.  The plan was to grab a quick breakfast and then roll out for a trip to a nearby wilderness area followed up a trip to Woolrich, PA for a tour of the Woolrich Woolen Mills.  Given my passion for local history and factory tours, I was sold!

Woke up to Steve from Overland Junkie Co. cooking up some pork roll.For being his first time using a skottle I think he did pretty good.

Over the years my overland campsite game has gone from “camp humble” to this sprawling metropolis.
Marked improvements like the awning and room from Bomber Products and the 150w solar from Overland Solar have taking things to a whole new level.

After breakfast there was a driver’s meeting covering the route details for the Woolrich trip.
Saw a lot of familiar faces in the group, as well as bunch of new ones.

Let’s roll!

Snaking our way through Rothrock State Forest on our way to the Alan Seeger Natural Area for a short hike.

The Alan Seeger Natural Area is an area of old growth American Hemlock trees that escaped harvest due to a border dispute between to competing logging companies.
Once the companies had moved on the land was set aside and preserved for future generations.
The route for our hike would be the orange Alan Seeger Trail.
It’s short, flat, and very scenic.
Getting a little outdoor education in on our trip.
Weird being on this side of things.
I lie. It’s actually nice. Got to learn a lot about the area and the surrounding flora.

Matt’s wife taking over and sharing her knowledge and experience with us.

Photos like this never do it justice, but those are some tall trees.

The group hiking the Alan Seeger Trail taking in the sights and sounds of the forest.

The Mountain Laurel had all but hidden this small forest stream from view.

A lot of care was put into this trail.
Small foot bridges on rock footers kept our feet dry and helped protect the stream from damage.
After the hike concluded we climbed back in our rigs and pointed out noses northeast towards Woolrich, PA.  Along the way we snaked a series of backroads one of which took me past the summer camp I used to work at when I was younger.  Sadly we were on a time crunch and, being part of a larger group, I couldn’t stop for a photo op.  Next time.

Putting a little gravel in our travel heading out from Rothrock State Forest.

Arrival at the Woolrich Wollen Mills

Once at the Woolrich Factory we gathered as a group for a tour of the mill.  This was hands down the highlight of the festival for me.  I love combining my overland adventures with local history.  Woolrich is an iconic brand and has been a part of central PA for a very long time.

After the tour was over it was time to head back to the farm.  I was famished and had some pretty tasty plans for dinner.  I also knew there would be more people onsite for Friday night.

Seasoned pork chops and potatoes on the Skottle for dinner.
Truth be told this year’s MAOF was a year off for me.  I wasn’t teaching and aside from playing media I was able to enjoy the show more.  As such I didn’t take too many photos in the evenings.  It was a chance to hang out with old friends, make new ones, and relax.  That’s what these events are all about, right?

Bring on the rain (Saturday)

The plan Saturday was for the girlfriend and I to head to a nearby state park for a picnic lunch, a hike with the dogs, and possibly a swim. On the way I was hoping to explore a nearby experimental forest. A late start combined with an impending storm and fast moving cold front would change those plans.

Not much action in the vendor area Saturday morning.
Still, those MLO and Four Wheel Camper rigs do look sharp.

After getting caught in a nasty summer storm complete with driving rain, hail, and high winds we finally made it back to the farm.

Decided to pop into the classroom and play student for a little while.
Jim from Overland Quest was sharing some tips and tricks on trip planning and logistics.
Classes like this are what make overland events worth attending.

A venerable cornucopia of rigs. Jeeps, Toyotas, Land Rovers, Fords, and even a Subaru.
This is also a great part of events like this.  Seeing all the cool kitted out rigs and how everyone built them for their overland adventures.

Saturday’s dinner was honey teriyaki chicken and broccoli over fried rice.
Can’t go wrong with a classic meal on the Skottle.
Especially when the new girlfriend is a foods teacher and takes your camp cooking to a whole new level.

A Saturday setting sun at MAOF can mean only one thing…

... raffle prices and the annual Overland Film Festival!!!

With all the prizes handed out and movies watched, it was time for a bit of an after party.
Names of those in attendance have been redacted to protect the guilty.

All good things must come to an end (Sunday)

Sunday’s are always bittersweet.  On one hand it sucks that the event is over and it’s time to head home.  On the other it’s the conclusion of some great memories and can only mean there are new memories just over the horizon.
Can’t leave on an empty stomach.
Adam from Overland History contributed the potatoes, some eggs, and sausage.
Ended up being way more food than the three of us could eat.
But OMG it was so tasty.
Thanks again to the new girlfriend for rocking her cooking skills.
As always, ECOA embodied the Leave No Trace ethos.
Doesn’t matter if it’s public or private land, we always do our best to leave nothing behind.

Huge thanks to the Henwood Family for hosting MAOF at their farm once again!

After rolling out from the farm, the girlfriend and I headed to Raystown Lake for a swim with the dogs and a lakeside lunch.

With MAOF in the rearview, it was time to head home over the mountains.

Conclusion

This was hands down the best Mid-Atlantic Overland Festival to date.  The obvious highlight of the trip was the Woolrich trip.  The combination of a short hike along with a factory tour is an easy win-win in my book.  While the heat wasn’t as bad as last year, the rain certainly did it’s job to remind everyone that it’s still summer in central PA.  The storms were heavy, but brief.  Luckily the trailer, awning room, and easy-up survived.
Looking ahead the Vol. 2 of the No Highways Tour is lingering on the horizon.  The plan, as of now, is to head through WV, KY, and TN on my way to NC for the Appalachian Rendezvous and then wrap up at Overland Expo East.  Both events are always a good time and I’m itching to get the LJ back on the rocks in Uwharrie.
Thanks again to all the Corporate Partners (especially Bomber Products, Overland Solar, and Tembo Tusk and new partners Odyssey Batteries) who help make attending events like this a pleasure as well as the 2017 Patron Support Team who believe in the mission of ECOA.

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If you enjoyed this event report, and would like to be a part of helping ECOA fulfill our mission to educate, encourage, and inspire by teaching classes and providing media coverage for events like this, please considering joining the ECOA Patron Support Team. Not only will you help take ECOA to the next level but you’ll get access to patron exclusive items like hardcover copies of the 2017 No Highways Tour books as well as a 10% discount at the ECOA/NHT online store on cool swag like patches and stickers.