JULY 21-22, 2009


BILL BURGER, Senior Advisor to KY Lt. Governor on Adventure Tourism

Adventure tourism is hands-on and physical.  Calls for participation, not just observation.  Governor and Lt. Governor feel adventure tourism is the way to enhance ourselves as well as market the state beyond what economic development and traditional tourism have looked at in the past.

Don’t wait on the State.   Government will only slow you down.  It will take entrepreneurs such as yourselves to “make things happen”.  You do it and the state will do their part in helping to market it.  

Please note:  Our current administration has been very supportive of adventure tourism. In fact, as a senator, prior to taking office as Lt. Governor, Daniel Mongiardo was the first to introduce an Adventure Tourism bill that led to the creation of the Kentucky Recreational Trails Authority (SB 196) which helped provide the funding  for this workshop through ARC.     www.lrc.ky.gov/RECORD/08RS/SB196/bill.doc

The Lt. Governor’s Office has also been instrumental in the “Cross Kentucky Trail Portal” Program where the State is attempting to map all existing trails across the state.

Contact Information:

Bill Burger
KY Lt. Governor’s Office
700 Capitol Ave #142
Frankfort, KY 40601

Email: bill.burger@ky.gov
Links to website: www.ky.gov


Developed an area for events that now draw nearly 20,000 people to the area each year.   Worked with First Tee and opened a golf training facility/ driving range.  Built a facility which now houses an office for the First Tee program.  

Also built a facility to house the National Soccer organization on site.  In return for enticing new businesses to come to Raleigh County, County government paid for and maintain an access road to each of these “public” venues.  Having this road access provided the opportunity for Beaver Coal to build a residential area and generate funds through the sale of homes.   

Cabins at Pine Haven:   Beaver Coal Company built cabins and lodge that provide lodging for ATV enthusiasts. Also popular with reunions and weddings.  Cabins have own hot tubs, fireplaces, full kitchens, bath and high speed wireless internet.  Built to encourage repeat business.  One cabin was built for $22,000 and is moveable; continually booked.  All the cabins are quality driven.

Burning Rock ATV: Beaver Coal Company donated land to county for trail system.  County operated trail and handles insurance coverage.  There is a general store, picnic pavilion, ATV storage area, RV area, and trailhead. Can handle all the immediate needs of the ATVer.  Located on low grade less volatile coal lands.  Race event held here. 

Stressed the importance of utilizing or creating an ATV club as a support mechanism.  They give club members a discount rate for permit and a take from the event. 

Most important rule to remember:  Competition by price is bad for everyone. Compete by quality of the experience.  Must present a united front to visitors.  Work together.  Support and promote each other.  Everyone will prosper in the end. 

Contact Information:

Woody Duba, Beaver Coal
115 ½  S. Kamawaha Street
Beckley WV  25801

Links to businesses:   

JAMIE COOK, KY Department of Fish & Wildlife Resource (KDFWR)

Watchable wildlife coordinator for the state of Kentucky as well as being an educator at the Salato Wildlife Center in Frankfort.  Stressed Kentucky’s variety of wildlife.  Stated that when designing trails for multi-use purposes consider including wildlife observation areas.  Parameters for those observation areas are:  observing, feeding and photographing.  Now 11,000-12,000 elk in eastern KY. 

In 2006, 71,132,000 Americans participated in watching wildlife.  Fastest growing outdoor recreation activity.  There are twice as many birdwatchers as golfers.  In 2006, $45,700,000,000 spent on wildlife watching.  If this were a Fortune 500 company, would rank 37th above AT & T, Lowes, Microsoft, and UPS.

Considered family oriented.  Appeals to all age groups. In 2006, 1,341,000 Kentuckians participated in wildlife watching. $542,000,000 spent in Kentucky for wildlife viewing. In 2006, $67,000,000 spent on food and lodging.

Steps to establish a wildlife viewing 1) Must have a natural resource.   2)  Build your planning team.   3)  Identify your resource.   4)  Conduct site assessment.   5)  Market your site.

Involve:  biologists, birders and nature clubs, photographers, tourism officials, ADA office and county officials, etc.

Land Conservation Fund Board is an excellent source of funding for purchasing and protecting wildlife viewing areas in your community.  Funds can also be used for interpretive signs, trails etc.    Need to go through the county to apply. 

Native Plant Program – available to assist.

Contact Information:

Jamie Cook
KY Dept of Fish & Wildlife
1 Sportsman’s Lane
Frankfort, KY 40601

PETER HACKBERT, Berea College’s  Entrepreneur for the Public Good

Encouraged adventure offerings in entrepreneurial ventures such as fee fishing, fee trail running, etc.  (See Slide Presentation).

  • Bundling experiences
  • Secret Sauce:
  • Collaboration
  • Comprehensive approaches (be unique)
  • Growth from within
  • Finding unique sweet spots (passion – competence – drive)

 Contact Information:

Peter Hackbert
Entrepreneur for the Public Good
Berea College CPO 2055
Berea, KY 40404


Business is a sideline for now.  Both have full time jobs which sustains them as they build their business.   Before starting, important to have a business plan. Also open a business bank account, incorporate, find insurance, and figure in equipment costs and maintenance.  Do your research.  Talk to others who have been successful in similar business and learn from them.   Find a mentor.  Learned a lot the first year about insurance.  It is based on numbers.  Underestimate the success of your business and your premiums will be much lower throughout the year.   If, at the end of the year, you bring in more than anticipated, adjustments can be made.     

Marketing tools are the web, utilize magazines and newspapers when possible – try to get articles written about you rather than ads, form partnerships with everyone.  Printed materials – be cost efficient.  Make careful decisions about donations to get the most return on investment.  And provide a quality experience.  Word of mouth is the least expensive and the most effective. 

Contact Information:

Bernice & Willie Ambergey
Saddle Up Elk Tours/KDFWR
250 Hale Cemetery Road
Mallie, KY 41836

BILL REED with Hatfield – McCoy Trails

Both Bill and Kendell Simpson worked to help Hatfield – McCoy Trail System from the very beginning.  Bill was instrumental in designing many of the trails and encouraged the “looped” system rather than just a straight trail from one point to another.     

Hatfield – McCoy currently manage and maintain 6 trailheads over a 500 mile trail system open to multi-use although primarily used by ATV’s and dirt bikes.  All six are separate trail systems that range in length between 60 and 115 miles long on a total of 300,000 acres of private lands.

Goal:    By 2011 – nine county trail system to have 2000 miles of trails interconnected throughout South West Virginia.  At this time, none of the six trail systems interconnect.  They are each independent self contained riding areas strategically placed within the western portion of West Virginia. 

Safe riding is a primary focus – helmets, eye protection, spark arrestors are all required.  Strongly recommend over the ankle shoes, long pants and sleeves.

Average stay of riders is 3.5 days

  • 2009 there will be over 30,000 permits sold. 

In-state $26.40; Out of state: $50

  • 90% riders are from out of state.  Only 10% are West Virginians! 
  • 3.5 day visit/stay spends on average $650 during visit
  • 83% reported that they would definitely return again.
  • 2009 - $600,000 spent in marketing

One primary signature event a year:  TrailFest: 2,000 people from 30 states attended in 2008.  

Smaller events such poker rides, celebrity rides etc. held throughout the year. 

Website:   http://www.trailsheaven.com/ 

Contact Information:

Bill Reed
S.A.M. Events
P.O. Box 1237
Gilbert, WV 25621


Own and operate the Hatfield & McCoy Resort Hotel in downtown Matewan as well as a restaurant located directly across from one of the primary trailheads for the Hatfield-McCoy Trail System.  Also strategically located next to the Tug River that offers 2 miles of river trail with public access at both ends.  

Decided a few years ago they needed to offer more for their visitors to do while in the area and began offering canoe trips.  As a family-owned business, they now could offer lodging, meals, and entertainment – a complete package.   

The Hatfield-McCoy River Rats business started by taking church groups and missionary groups down the river and business began to grow. The Tug River is a flat water, a bit muddy at times, but the perfect venue for families and wildlife viewing. 

Began marketing for people to come stay at the Hatfield-McCoy Resort and get a free canoe trip down the Tug River as an added benefit.    Recently developed a unique design concept in the fact that they have a self contained mobile business.  They can easily come to the customer and float different rivers for maximum use throughout the year. 

Contact Information:

Don McCoy
Hatfield-McCoy Resort & River Rats
P.O. Box 725
Matewan, WV 25688

NICOLE MEYER, Torrent Falls Via Ferrata Rock Climbing

  • 8 years in family business at Torrent Falls.  Offer rock climbing adventures:
  • Via Ferrata
  • Guided rock climbing and rappelling
  • Boy Scout Merit Badge

First in the United States to offer Via Ferrata though it is quite popular in Europe.  French ROC came in and set up their system.  Received lots of visitors from Europe that are looking for the same kind of experience they are familiar with there.  Novelty for the area.  Always good to be the First!   Great marketing tool.

At one time, also offered lodging and a restaurant.  Had to downsize and refocus on what really worked for them.  Currently offer more than just climbing now as a package experience. Hope to bring back zipline which was popular but too much work for the staff as originally designed. 


  • No verbal agreements! Have contracts in place when working with others
  • Learn how to cope with external factors, such as local & big governments
  • Understand the local community where you plan to start a business
  • Be committed to your dream.  Never give up!

 Contact Information:

Nicole Meyer
Torrent Falls
1617 N. KY 11
Compton, KY 41301


Strategic Advantage Marketing is a multi faceted company that specializes in:

  • Trail Inventory and mapping
  • Trail layout and design
  • Trail Construction and Maintenance
  • Marketing
  • Media Relations
  • Sponsor Procurement and Maintenance
  • Events

SAM has staff that has specialized training in building “loop trail systems” as opposed to roads through the mountains.  All trails are designed for optimum safety and adventure.

SAM has developed strong relationships* with:

·       National and regional television media

  • Fishers ATV World
  • Dirt Dtrax TV
  • Ride to Adventure

·       National trade print magazines

  • Dirt Wheels
  • ATV Sport
  • All Terrain Magazine

·       Internet sites

  • ATV Source.com
  • Speed TV.com
  • ATV Mag online.com

SAM has extensive working relationships with corporate sponsors*:

  • Yamaha Kawasaki
  • KTM Can Am
  • Kenda Toyota
  • Warn Suzuki
  • Diamondback Tucker Rocky (MSR)

Also sets up events and attends trade shows.  *These are just a few examples of the corporate contacts that are available to SAM.

Contact Information:

Bill Reed
S.A.M. Events
P.O. Box 1237
Gilbert, WV 25621

Contact Information:

Kendell Simpson
S.A.M. Events
P.O. Box 1237
Gilbert, WV 25621

Contact Information:

Julian Rubi
S.A.M. Events
P.O. Box 1237
Gilbert, WV 25621

RANDY THOMPSON, Knott County Judge Executive

Knott County is creating an Adventure Tourism Park System throughout the entire county which includes ATV trails, horseback riding trails, wildlife viewing areas and much more. 

Through a partnership between Western Pocahontas Coal Company and the Knott County Fiscal Court, a portion of 43,000 acres of its reclaimed coal mine area and forests now offers over 100 miles of horseback riding trails. The annual County sponsored Spring and Fall Trail Rides  attracted over 5000 people and 2,500 horses to each event from as far away as Texas, Florida and Utah.   The county is now developing horse trails in four other parts of the county, recently added a riding ring at Mine Made Paradise Park where they will also be adding a campground facility and trailhead. 

In 2007, Knott County became the Elk Capital of the East and have set up a viewing area for elk along Elk View Drive in which hundreds of people visit each year and which has become the primary place for elk tours.   Knott County is also  the site of the Annual Kentucky Elk Expo and Sportsman’s Show each year sponsored by Knott County, the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources, and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. 

In 2007, Knott County Fiscal Court opened the OHV* Training Center for ATV’s and dirt bikes.  There are only four other such training centers in the United States. They are located in Ohio, Texas, Georgia and California. Knott County is the only one that includes a training facility and skills test area complete with water hazards and a variety of surfaces, as well as serve as an ATV trailhead directly connecting to hundreds of miles of ATV trails of differing skill levels including beginners, intermediate and black diamond trails.

 In 2009, the county expanded the OHV Training Center to include an on-road motorcycle training facility.  

 Knott County is now developing a number of other ATV and horseback riding trails throughout the county along with trailheads, many of which will include campground facilities. 

*Training Center follows the SVIA - ATV Safety Institute guidelines for safe riding.   http://svia.org/

Contact Information:

Randy Thompson
Knott County Judge Executive
41 Main Street
Hindman, KY 41822

MATT OSBORNE, Kentucky Adventure Tourism Director

Matt Osborne, State Director of Adventure Tourism, spoke on the new signage program Kentucky is implementing specifically for adventure tourism initiatives. And that other states need to be working with their State Transportation Agencies.

He also spoke about working with communities on developing trail systems and land acquisition issues and developing land use agreements.   He shared with everyone a few of the different initiatives happening throughout the state and the huge potential eastern Kentucky has to capitalize on this strong and growing interest in adventure tourism activities due to so much open land being available and the fact that many of the trails already exist and only need to be mapped and marked. 

Contact Information:

Matt Osborne
Kentucky Adventure Tourism
500 Mero Street – Captial Plaza
Frankfort, KY 40601

WMTH CORPORATION PO BOX 51153 BOWLING GREEN, KY 42102 PHONE (270) 792-5300 FAX 721-0004