ATV Mud Nationals makes Jacksonville filthy with cash
Starting next week, thousands of people are expected to descend upon the Jacksonville area for High Lifter ATV Mud Nationals.
That means out-of-town ATV enthusiasts will not only get dirty as they plow through trails at Mud Creek Off-Road Park but will help stimulate the local economy as they spend money at restaurants, businesses and hotels, city officials said.
"It's a great event for our community. ... Hotels are being booked (in surrounding communities) because we can't accommodate the people that are coming here," said Peggy Renfro, president of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce.
This year's Mud Nationals will take place Wednesday through March 24 at Mud Creek Off-Road Park northeast of Jacksonville.
Among the planned events are the Wet Sounds "Mud Jam" competitions, S3 Power Sports Poker Run, Youth Bog and Polaris Mudda-Cross competition, according to the event schedule.
Tracie Engi, event coordinator for High Lifter Products, Inc., said a new obstacle course event was added this year so people can participate, even if they might not have as many modifications on their vehicle.
"It's just a group of people who have the same interest in ATVs. They come together. They compete. They show off their bike ..." she said.
"We try to make it a family-type experience. We have children's competitions in our mud bog. We have concerts. People can listen to music, (and) we have ATV manufacturers on-hand to answer questions (attendees) may have about their bike."
Before the event each year, she said organizers ensure the trails are in good shape.
Ms. Engi said this is the ninth year at Mud Creek, and throughout planning the event, organizers run across a lot of people who look forward to it.
She anticipates the crowd will be good this year and said a lot of people from the north are pleased to come to the Texas weather.
City Manager Mo Raissi said the local economy is stimulated any time people come in, through shopping and other purchases they make around town.
Jacksonville's May 2011 sales tax allocation was $327,561, according to sales tax data. That number, which represents sales from March 2011, is about $98,800 more than April's allocation that year.
For 2010, the May allocation was $301,857 compared to $214,002 for April that year, and for 2009, May was $316,552 while April was $235,905.
The event not only affects sales tax, Raissi said, but also hotel/motel tax, which can benefit tourism.
Because the off-road park is outside the city, Raissi said the city does not have jurisdiction over what happens there. However, Jacksonville Police Chief Reece Daniel said via email that there are always plenty of off-duty officers on-hand for security, and Cherokee County authorities are available to help with any issues.
"Our involvement is limited to some of my officers who work the security details during the event. Most of the people are just here to enjoy themselves and the event and generally stay confined to the park, which is outside our city limits," he wrote in the email.
Jacksonville Fire Chief Paul White said the main impact the event has on his department is that it ends up making a lot of ambulance runs out to the park.
But Raissi and workers in the city said they are pleased to have the people in the area.
Sue Hines, front desk manager at Best Western Plus Executive Inn in Jacksonville, said Tuesday that the hotel had likely been booked for a month.
"It's a lot of revenue for us, and we enjoy having them. It's exciting when they're here ..." she said. "It's a fun time for us, too. ... We're ready for them."
Jess Tuttle, director of sales and marketing at Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites, said the hotel has been booked for Mud Nationals weekend for more than a year.
Still, he said at least one or two people call each day asking if they have rooms, and they have to refer them to other hotels.
"The revenue that weekend brings in alone is crazy ..." he said. "We're going to be crazy busy."
Joseph Padron, with AutoZone, said sales increase around the time of Mud Nationals, and people come in to buy batteries and air filters for their ATVs, among other things.
"It's a plus for us in a way," he said, adding that business for the most part is steady during the event.
Sonya Jenkins, manager at the Exxon convenience store across from Sonic, said business picks up there as well.
She said Mud Nationals is an interesting and fun time where she meets a lot of new people and hears stories.
Mud Nationals may be the first time someone has been to Jacksonville, so it could increase the number of future visitors who will come back to see what the city offers, Ms. Renfro said.
"Sometimes it's been their first time, and what we have heard is that they're coming back," she said.
She added, "I think as those visitors are coming through town; it's very good to have the customer service as we've had in the past and let them know what Jacksonville has to offer. If they're stopping to fuel or get something to eat, it's good for them to also share other things that can take place here."