May in Flagstaff not only brings budding aspens and migrating birds but the appearance of tricked-out trucks, campers and off-road vehicles. That’s because mid-May is when Flagstaff hosts the annual Overland Expo West, an adventure travel event for motorcycles, four-wheel-drive vehicles, campers and the people who love them. In light of the coronavirus pandemic, the festival has been postponed until July 24-26, but that hasn’t stopped event producers, Indianapolis-based Lodestone Events, from going forward with the traditional May festivities—with a twist. This year, in addition to the postponed event, Overland Expo West has gone virtual.
“The overlanding community has been incredibly understanding and supportive of our decision to reschedule Overland Expo West due to the novel coronavirus pandemic,” Lodestone Events Marketing and Communications VP Jessica Kirchner said. “We wanted to bring the community together on Expo West’s traditional event weekend and create an environment where fans and sponsors can learn, interact and get inspired, even if we can’t all be together.”
The Virtual Overland Expo is boasting a roster of events including YouTube education classes ranging from first aid to tips for camping with pets, live backcountry cooking and mixology classes, the latest gear and equipment demos as well as the virtual campgrounds contest showcasing participant’s own overland trucks, vans and SUVS.
The Virtual Overland Expo event will be free to all, not just ticketholders for the July in-person expo.
“We wanted to do this as a way to keep the community solidified, keep the community excited. It really adds some extra value for the folks joining us in July,” Nick Jaynes, Overland’s director of communications, said.
In addition to remotely uniting the world-wide overlanding community, the online festival aims to raise funds for Flagstaff-area charities. Participants are encouraged to make donations to the Overland Expo Foundation, which supports local first responders, and charities like Threaded Together and Flagstaff Shelter Services.
“We’ve seen such an outpouring of support for the event, a real excitement,” said Jaynes. “We have way more exhibitors signed up to do virtual walkthroughs of their booths. We’re going to have a lot of content for [May 16] but also archived for the website moving forward. The virtual campground for fans and visitors is almost entirely filled up.”
To cap off the virtual expo, Overland staff will sit around a virtual campfire and chat with participants over virtual cocktails, answering any motorized adventure related questions.
Virtual Overland Expo West will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 16. Interested folks can access the expo by visiting www.overlandexpo.com/virtual. For those who cannot join the event live, all content will be available on the website for later viewing.
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