The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia


June 1, 2014

Festival spACE

Larger than two NFL football fields, the new festival site at ACE Adventure Resort is being hailed for its economic impact potential in southern West Virginia.

Capable of accommodating more than 12,000 spectators and providing immediate access to ACE’s 1,500-acre resort, the venue will be the region’s largest commercial outdoor facility, with potential for significant economic growth in the gorge and its outdoor-recreation industry, according to state and local officials.

Amy Shuler Goodwin, incoming commissioner for the West Virginia Division of Tourism, cited the value of facility’s location near the heart of the state’s southern whitewater region and the increasing importance of festivals in West Virginia.

“The addition of this festival space will be an incredible resource for the region and complement ACE Adventure Resort’s wonderful array of offerings,” Goodwin said.

“Large outdoor events and spectacular recreation are signature attractions of the Mountain State which draw visitors from around the country. I am pleased to offer my congratulations and look forward to years of success.”

Opening with a three-day music festival beginning June 5, the venue is designed to host several multi-day gatherings throughout the year, including adjunct events that coincide with established festivals such as Bridge Day at nearby Fayetteville, according to resort vice president Ernie Kincaid.

“We’ve been thinking about the possibility of coordinating our outdoor recreation amenities with an ambitious festival program for years, and the time was finally ripe for us to move on the project.”

The 1,500-acre resort on the rim of the New River Gorge guides more than 30,000 rafters on the New River, contributing $10 million annually to the local economy, Kincaid said.

Sharon Cruikshank, director of the Fayette County Chamber of Commerce, said she’s excited to see how the festival ground impacts Fayette County.

“This is an incredibly exciting development and an ideal economic-development component,” she said. “I look forward to seeing what sort of impact the festival ground is going to have.”

Chad Wykle, executive director of the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority, said his agency is interested in the potential of a site already integrated with rafting and the recreation industry.

“There has certainly been a need for a commercial festival venue of this scale in the New River Gorge region. That the festival space is so near ground-zero for summer recreation should have a significant economic impact.”

The addition of the festival ground, the resort’s development of trails, a recreational lake, and a mile-long canopy-tour network on the rim of the gorge have helped officials build on a core audience of rafters, many who return annually for multi-day adventure vacations.

Established in 1980 as American-Canadian Expeditions, ACE has become one of the leading whitewater-rafting outfitters in the eastern U.S. and maintains the largest outdoor-adventure resort in the country.

The Travel Channel ranked it top among extreme outdoor-adventure resorts in North America as a result of its size, the number of guests it hosts and the number of activities it offers.

The three-day Mountain Music Festival set to open on the grounds June 5 is being promoted as a “music festi-vacation” and will feature broadly divergent bands, billed loosely as jam, punk and alternative bluegrass.

Text Only