Last year, the world record was set in Evarts for the biggest ATV parade. This year, the Harlan County Ridge Runners, who organized that event, wanted to do it all again.
On Saturday, however, it was utility vehicles (UTVs), also known as side x sides, that were featured. When the paperwork is completed and the numbers are confirmed, Harlan County will claim the honor of also being the home of the biggest UTV parade in the world.
According to Ridge Runners president Preston McLain, the count on Saturday was 73 entries. Since there wasn't a record to beat, Saturday's parade unofficially set the world record. Mclain said the waiting game now begins for Guinness officials to review the recorded DVD footage of the parade, along with submitted pictures and written statements prepared by parade judges.
Last year, McLain said it took up to four months to get the official word from Guinness. McLain also said he was pleased with the numbers.
"Side x Side Magazine also had an event out on the West Coast where there were 500 spectators, but only 100 entries," McLain said. "So that goes to show you that we did pretty good for the first time right here in Harlan County. We wanted to set another record for the good of the sport, along with the publicity that it generates for Harlan County. It lets people know what all we're doing here and the fun we're having."
Riders and passengers from 11 different states came for Saturday's parade. There were plenty of locals in the lineup, too.
After the parade, state Sen. Daniel Mongiardo (D-Hazard) made a brief visit to the Verda Field, where the event was held, to talk about the importance of adventure tourism and the impact it could have on the state. Mongiardo, who is making a bid for lieutenant governor alongside Steve Beshear in November's general election, laid out the campaign's plan to make Kentucky a premier destination for outdoor enthusiasts.
Speaking to a dusty gathering of riders under a blazing August sun, Mongiardo credited Harlan County for helping to place Kentucky on the national map in terms of outdoor recreation.
"This is the birthplace of adventure tourism," Mongiardo said while standing at the Verda Field. "And the members of the Ridge Runners and the Mountain Crawlers have helped spring forward this idea of adventure tourism and has played a big part in making Harlan County a premier destination for people who love to ride."
According to Mongiardo, Kentucky is poised to be not only a premier destination for ATVs, but also for hiking, horseback riding and other forms of outdoor activity. He said the commonwealth's state park system is regarded as one of the best in the nation. Adventure tourism is among the industries the Beshear-Mongiardo ticket has targeted, and the candidate said it can create more jobs, particularly in rural areas of the state like eastern Kentucky.
"We believe adventure tourism can be the second-leading industry in the state," Mongiardo said. "With all these opportunities for adventure tourism at our doorsteps ... state government must do more to encourage our counties to build on their individual strengths."