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The Hottest Item For N.H.'s North Country? ATVs

Though a Berlin ATV festival planned for the end of July was canceled, riders and supporters of the hobby say the industry is still thriving in the North Country.

ATV riding has become more popular in the area since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, because it’s an outdoor hobby, and people who would have gone on vacation or had plans to travel couldn’t do so because of restrictions.

Paula Kinney, executive director of the Androscoggin Valley Chamber of Commerce, says she’s noticed people renting or buying an ATV without ever having ridden one. 

“I don’t think they ever planned on doing it,” Kinney says. “And now they’re riding the trails.”

Though Berlin’s Jericho ATV Festival has been cancelled twice due to the pandemic, excitement still carries over to the retail side of the industry. Faron Deyette, general manager of Dalton Mountain Motorsports, says good business and production lags means the shop can’t build up any inventory. He says they don’t have any new ATVs or Side-by-Sides in stock. 

“There's just such a delay getting them that by the time they show up customers have already deposited on them. The minute they land, they’re gone,” he says. 

The Androscoggin Valley ATV Club hoped to hold an event in its place called the Androscoggin ATV Invasion, but after citing concerns over insurance and lack of rain creating unfavorable conditions for mud-related ATV activities, the club decided to cancel this event. 

Despite a lack of large events Kinney says she thinks ATV tourism in the North Country will remain strong throughout the end of the season. 

“I’m not gonna say it's not gonna hurt some of the smaller vendors that would've been there,” Kinney says. “But I still see the people coming here. It’s still booked solid. It just seems very, very busy.”

Samantha Coetzee joined the NHPR team in 2020 as a weekend Board Operator and is now NHPR’s News Intern. A senior journalism major at the University of New Hampshire and New Hampshire native, Samantha is also the General Manager of WUNH, UNH’s student-run radio station.
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