For 16 years, thousands of ATV/UTV enthusiasts traveled from all over the U.S., Canada and various locations from around the world to Jacksonville, TX for the High Lifter Mud Nationals. In its 17th year, High Lifter and Polaris brought the High Lifter Mud National, recognized by many as the largest ATV/UTV mud event in the world, to Hempstead County at the Hillarosa ATV Park in Blevins.
High Lifter is based in Shreveport, LA. The company manufactures and sells after-market accessories for utility, 4-wheel drive ATVs, UTVs, and RUVs.
The High Lifter team worked for months with Hillarosa and local officials in preparation for this year’s event, even putting up a large investment to help set the park up to meet their needs.
Once all the prep work was done and the day of the event arrived, the crowds started pouring in. High Lifter staff working the event expected around 15,000 to attend from across the United States and Canada. There were even visitors from Iceland and Europe. No final numbers have been made available at this time but every open field in Hillarosa was packed with RV’s and the line of incoming traffic rarely seems to get shorter.
Everywhere you looked, trucks hauling ATV’s and UTV’s were there, which meant a big influx of cash into the economies of Hempstead County, as well as the surrounding counties. Even with the large number of attendees who camped in the park during the event, hotels were booked to capacity. Convenience stores, gas stations, restaurants and other businesses saw a huge increase in sales with the influx of riders.
Megan Huntzinger, General Manager of the Hampton Inn in Hope said they started taking reservations for the week of the High Lifter Mud National in June of last year. Megan said every room they have was filled and that it was the same for the other hotels in town. The situation was the same in Nashville and Prescott and many even got rooms in outlying towns like Texarkana.
Kelly Roberts, Sales and Marketing Manager for High Lifter Products, said they spoke with several businesses in the community and asked their opinion on the large number of people coming to the High Lifter Mud Nationals. Roberts said that the overwhelming response was very positive, and more than one business reported their best sales day ever during the five-day event.
Those who came for the event came ready for a good time and there were plenty of opportunities available. There was, of course, around 2,000 acres to explore and mud aplenty. And there were plenty of people to meet and hangout with who shared a love of all things mudding. You add the vendors with pretty much anything and everything an off-roader could want, concerts every night on a newly built stage, a Poker Run, ATV/UTV Soccer, a Bounty Hole, races and more, there was plenty to keep the mudders entertained throughout the week.
Many of the people who visited Hempstead County for the High Lifter Mud Nationals have attended the event for years at the previous location. Those we spoke with were very positive about the event and Hillarosa. The biggest complaint we heard was that there wasn’t anywhere to buy beer in the county.
Of course, whenever you get a group of people who outnumber the city of Hope together in a centralized location and there are motorized vehicles involved, there are going to be issues. There were multiple calls throughout the event for injuries, but most were minor. The Hempstead County Sheriff’s Office, Arkansas State Police, Pafford EMS, Blevins Fire Department, Office of Emergency Management and other responders were all on-hand. The emergency responders were staged at the entrance of Hillarosa and constantly patrolled the park during the event. The Sheriff’s Department facilitated the hiring of additional off-duty law enforcement from within and outside of the county to work the park as security and respond to emergencies. Sheriff James Singleton reported to the Quorum Court during the event and had positive things to say about the people from High Lifter and the visitors to the county. Sheriff Singleton said that the event went well and that having the event here was a boon to the county.
High Lifter Sales and Marketing Manager Kelly Roberts said High Lifter was pleased with how their first High Lifter Mud National at Hillarosa went and they look forward to it being even better next year. Roberts said, “Riding enthusiast are great people who want to have a good time with friends and family. High Lifter Mud National guests are those who want to share the riding experience.” Roberts encourages those who didn’t attend this year and are interested to join them for the event next year and to not to worry about the possibility of getting stuck trying it out. “A big part of mud riding is getting stuck,” Roberts said, “and that’s when everyone steps in. So, don’t worry if you don’t have a winch or a tow rope, someone at High Lifter Mud Nats will, and you’ll make a new friend for life.”