BENEZETTE – Mid-August is an exciting time for Elk Country.
The elk rut is just around the corner, and the area is about to see a large increase in the number of tourists who will be staying at local lodging facilities, eating at local restaurants and frequenting stores throughout the fall season.
But before the elk viewing season gets into full swing, the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors Visitors Bureau and the Keystone Elk Country Alliance, host the biggest celebration of “everything elk” in the northeast during the annual Pennsylvania Great Outdoors Elk Expo. It is being held on the grounds of the Elk Country Visitor Center in Benezette.
The 2017 Elk Expo will feature kids calling contests, outdoor seminars by Keystone Elk Country Alliance, Pennsylvania Game Commission and Elk Country Conservation District as well as more than 100 vendors to browse from.
The PA Great Outdoors Visitors Bureau booth will showcase the official Elk Expo merchandise and regional tourism information.
Featured events include free caricatures by John Manders Illustrations, a birding competition, youth shooting sports (pellet gun and archery), the always funny storyteller Dennis Murray, PGC K-9 office demonstration, living with snakes, meet “The Deer Lady,” horse-drawn wagon rides and mock goose hunts.
Visitors can enjoy live music from The Wrangler Band, Against the Grain and Nick Forsyth, plus food and fun for the entire family.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission will hold its annual Elk License Drawing at 1 p.m. on Saturday. There will be 25 antlered and 93 antlerless elk licenses awarded this year to hunters who have applied for a license before the July 31 deadline.
On Sunday at 1 p.m. the Keystone Elk Country Alliance will hold its Elk License Raffle Drawing for the popular Conservation Tag. Raffle tickets will be available at the event until 11 a.m. on Sunday.
An estimated 12,000 people visited the Elk Expo in 2016 from New York, Ohio, Maryland, Virginia and much of Pennsylvania.
Carla Wehler, operations manager for the Keystone Elk Country Alliance, says: “We are a showcase for conservation in Pennsylvania, for elk and all wildlife.”
She added that, “It’s great to see people with such a genuine interest in the future of the thriving elk herd, currently numbering over 1,000 animals.”
The 2017 Elk Expo will be held Saturday, Aug. 19, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday, Aug. 20, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Shuttle service will be available to visitors from the old Benezette School House and three other locations on Winslow Hill from parking areas. Shuttles and vehicles with handicap tags will have parking on the grounds.
Pets are not permitted on Elk Country Visitor Center grounds. Also as a reminder, elk are free roaming, wild animals and visitors are asked to use caution and keep a safe distance when in their vicinity.
For more information visit the Elk Expo official Web site, www.ElkExpo.com or call the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors Visitors Bureau at 814-849-5197.