MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Organizers for MountainFest, an annual motorcycle rally near Morgantown, are putting the festival on hold for 2020 and evaluating the best options for producing a successful event.
The announcement was released on the festival’s Facebook page on Tuesday afternoon.
During an appearance on WAJR-AM’s Talk of the Town with Dave & Sarah, Susan Riddle, the executive director of the Greater Morgantown Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, alluded to a number of factors that went into the decision to put the yearly event on hold. She noted a changing motorcycle industry and a change in interests since the event’s inception as a simple motorcycle rally 15 years ago.
“We need to step back and take a look how an event like this needs to be modified to benefit everybody moving forward,” Riddle stated. “We have to constantly have events that are relevant and are things that people want to come and attend.”
At its peak in 2011, an estimated 60,000 people came to the Morgantown area, growing to one of the largest rallies on the East Coast and — according to festival organizers — producing a $10 million economic impact of the region.
Now, the success of MountainFest has spurred other similar events to come to Monongalia County; the Wild and Wonderful Country Fest sprang up last year, a two-day event in August that directly competed with MountainFest for entertainment and sponsorship dollars.
“Because of events like MountainFest, the Wild and Wonderful Country Fest group came to town and their numbers indicated 25,000 people attended their event over a couple of days,” Riddle said. “Without the success of MountainFest over 15 years, I don’t know if anyone would have seriously looked at what the possibilities were for our market place.”
Riddle added the key to MountainFest duplicating its past success and continuing beyond 2020 is adapting to changing trends and tastes.
“You’ve got to be able to produce something that is going to scratch and itch, that is going to get people to come in and spend time in your area.”