By John Straitiff

2017 was an exciting year at the PA Great Outdoors Visitors Bureau and across the PA Great Outdoors region.  Danielle Taylor, Beth Gabler Exley, and Bob Exley joined team PAGO.  

In May, a new Wifi hotspot enabled visitors to Cook Forest to share their adventures with the world.  May also saw a new 24/7 live Clarion River live streaming camera installed at Pale Whale Canoe Fleet on River Road in Cooksburg. Sadly, the Farmers Inn suffered a devastating fire in late May.  The good news is, construction is underway and should be completed in Spring of 2018.

In June, East Brady unveiled a new a beautiful mural celebrating life on the river called “Playground of the Allegheny”. 2017 was the inaugural year for the Pennsylvania BBQ Tour with large crowds at events in Clarion, Kersey, Benezette, Brookville, and Emporium. The annual Big Old Fish Contest, from April through June, garnered a record number of entries. Summer was filled with fairs and festivals.  

During September the sights and sounds of the elk rut brought more visitors to the region than ever before.  As summer gave way to fall, the granddaddy of annual events in the region, Autumn Leaf Festival attracted more than a half-million people to Clarion.

The theme of October was television.  The snowmobile trails in the region were featured on Snow Trails TV to a national audience. Todd Deluccia and I took viewers of Friends in Wild Places across the country on a fly fishing adventure for native brook trout in the mountains of Cameron County. Erik the Travel Guy spent a week in the region during early October filming video for a 30-minute episode of Beyond Your Back Yard that will air on Blue Ridge PBS and other Virginia PBS television stations during the Spring of 2018.  

As the year nears the end, I am thankful to be blessed with a good staff, supportive board, wonderful members, and honored that my job is promoting the region, attractions, people and places that I so dearly love and call my home.

May you have a safe and happy new year filled with joy, love, family, and friends.

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