Written by Danielle Taylor | Header image by Jeffery R. Orzechowski
Come celebrate Pennsylvania’s wild elk herd! The 2018 Elk Expo, held in Benezette on the grounds of the Elk Country Visitor Center (ECVC) on August 18 and 19, will feature everything from games to educational seminars to drawings for elk tags, and whether you’re the outdoors type, a parent with young kids, or just someone who enjoys a good festival, you’ll find plenty to keep you entertained. Each summer, the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors Visitors Bureau proudly partners with the Keystone Elk Country Alliance (KECA) to host this annual celebration of everything elk, and it regularly draws 10,000 to 15,000 people over the course of the two-day event.
Elk Expo features a variety of speakers offering educational seminars on nature, wildlife, and hunting topics relevant to the region. This year, these include info on the elk rut, Pennsylvania’s predators, whitetail deer, fur bearers and more. The popular K-9 unit from the Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) will be back, and new this year is an atlatl throwing demonstration.
Attendees can stroll through more than 100 vendor booths offering handmade products, outdoor gear, wildlife photography, and other local artisanal goods as well as a variety of wine, beer, and festival food. The Wrangler Band, Mis’ B Havin, and Nick Forsyth will provide live music, and storyteller Dennis Murray will entertain you with his hunting and fishing tales.
Kids can enjoy fun activities and educational opportunities presented by ECVC staff, including horse-drawn wagon rides, an archery shoot, interactive exhibits, and a 4D sensory-surround theater. Local illustrator John Manders will provide caricatures for expo guests, and everyone enjoys the entertaining elk and turkey calling contests.
Of course, the highlights of the event are the drawings for elk tags, and these occur at 1 p.m. each afternoon. On Saturday, PGC will draw from the pool of applicants for the regular elk hunt tags (last year, PGC processed more than 30,000 applications and issued 124 tags), and on Sunday, KECA will hold its much-anticipated drawing for the annual “Bull of a Lifetime” tag.
This highly exclusive tag gives its winner a chance at a record 400+ class bull elk, a 61-day hunting season, freedom to hunt across any open elk hunt zone, a fully guided six-day hunt including meals and lodging with Elk County Outfitters, a shoulder mount ($1,200 value) of the harvested bull elk, and filming of the hunt by TomBob Outdoors for their TV show, Friends in Wild Places. Last year, KECA sold 10,587 tickets for this raffle, which raises funds for conservation education programs, elk habitat improvements, and permanent land protection projects. To purchase a “Bull of a Lifetime” raffle ticket, go to ExperienceElkCountry.com/membership-gear and choose between a single ticket for $25 or a six-pack for $100.
Expo coordinator and ECVC operations manager Carla Wehler advises attendees to arrive early, as parking is offsite and attendees will have to shuttle in from the Dents Run Elk Viewing Area, Woodring Farm Elk Viewing Area, Winslow Hill Elk Viewing Area, or the Benezette Community Center. A limited number of parking spaces for disabled individuals will be available first-come, first-serve at ECVC. Also, she recommends that attendees bring cash for vendor purchases and come hungry, as the event offers a lot of great food!
For more information on the 2018 Elk Expo, visit ElkExpo.com or call the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors Visitors Bureau at (814) 849-5197.