atv

A previous Jericho ATV Festival in Berlin: The demos and events are coming back. (COURTESY PHOTO)

BERLIN — The Androscoggin Valley Chamber of Commerce has announced the Jericho ATV Festival will take place in August after a two-year hiatus.

But the chamber’s longtime co-sponsor of the event, the Androscoggin Valley ATV Club, is apparently threatening legal action, claiming the event belongs to the club.

Last year, the club and chamber split over the event, and the chamber announced in April it was stepping away from the festival “and will no longer be involved in organizing and managing the popular event with the Androscoggin Valley ATV Club.”

The chamber canceled its registration of the festival with the N.H. Secretary of State’s office.

The ATV club announced plans to hold a new event, the ATV Invasion at Jericho Gateway Family Campground, on Route 110 owned by Bruce Luksza.

That festival was ultimately canceled because the club was unable to get insurance and drought conditions at the time created undesirable conditions for the mud pit and other activities.

In August, Luksza said no entity had filed to register the festival with the Secretary of State’s office. Fearing some outside organization would scoop up the name, he registered it.

Luksza sees the festival as an important economic engine for the valley and wants to see it continue. But he also knows it was more than he could take on.

“I can’t handle all the logistics of this event,” he said.

So, he asked the chamber if it was willing to take over management and promotion of the festival. The chamber board of directors met in November, and Chamber Executive Director Paula Kinney said the vote was unanimous to take the festival over.

Kinney said the chamber is not paying Luksza, and any profits made will go into promoting the region. She said Progressive Insurance has signed up as the main sponsor, and Luksza said they are talking to other sponsors.

He said they expect to follow federal Centers for Disease Control guidelines for COVID-19 and will adjust their plans accordingly.

The Androscoggin Valley ATV Club board declined to talk about their dispute over the festival, saying the board wanted their attorney to speak on the club’s behalf. The attorney had not returned phone calls as of press time.

The club plans, creates and maintains the nearly 90 miles of ATV trails in Jericho Mountain State Park as well as the Head Pond and Success trail systems.

The festival was started in 2010 by the state Bureau of Trails with a $30,000 grant from the N.H. Division of Economic Development. The bureau hired the Glen Group to promote and manage the event. An estimated 2,000 people attended the festival and it was declared a success. The following year, the state handed the event over to the Androscoggin Valley ATV Club, which turned to the city for financial support.

At the time, then-Club President Dick Huot said the event was more than the club could do on its own and the chamber and Main Street Program stepped in to share the workload.

In 2013, the chamber came aboard as a full partner. The festival has continued to grow and attract visitors, becoming one of the valley’s signature events.

Luksza said they are already planning the 2023 festival.

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