BY DOYLE DIETZ
BENEZETTE — For those looking for a tranquil escape into the area of the Pennsylvania wilds known as Elk Country, the time has come and gone for the next several months.
Beginning the weekend of Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 21-22, the two-lane blacktop roads — which are too narrow to be called “highways” — will be bumper to bumper with pickup trucks and campers that take up the width on the roads from berm to berm as they wind their way to and from the premier outdoors holiday known as the Elk Expo.
This third weekend of August is perfect timing for the Elk Expo, as it takes place just before the full-blown elk rut begins. There is the disclaimer, however, that a massive bull or two may already have undergone a major hormone infusion. And boys being boys, that elk may decide the middle of a dirt road providing access to popular viewing areas is its territory, and it’s willing to take on the grill of that new Chevy pickup to prove its point.
Sponsored by the Keystone Elk Country Alliance and Elk Country Visitor Center as the largest elk celebration in the Northeast, the annual Elk Expo is held on the grounds of the visitor center in Benezette every August. Exhibits, seminars, antler scoring, a presentation by Pennsylvania Game Commission elk biologist Jeremy Banfield, calling contests and more than 100 vendors are feature attractions of the Elk Expo.
Emphasis has been placed on making the Elk Expo an event for the family with live music, entertainment, food and souvenirs. Most anticipated is the Pennsylvania Game Commission elk tag drawing and Keystone Elk Country Alliance bull tag raffle.
A random drawing for the 2021 Pennsylvania elk licenses will be held Saturday by the PGC in the ECCO Building. To be entered into the 2021 elk license lottery drawing, applications must be made through the PGC website at huntfish.pa.gov or purchased at any licensed issuing agent.
Each year the PGC donates a bull tag to the KECA with all of the proceeds directly benefiting Pennsylvania’s Elk Country. Tickets may be purchased at www.experienceelkcountry.com, and the raffle drawing will be held Sunday for the guided hunt, which will be filmed and a shoulder mount presented to the successful hunter.
There is no admission or parking charge for the Elk Expo, but there is a $5 fee to cover the expense of shuttle service. For information on lodging and activities during the Elk Expo, go to the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors Visitors Bureau website at www.VisitPAGO.com; for information about the Elk Country Visitor Center and the Keystone Elk Country Alliance go to elkcountryvisitorcenter.com and experenceelkcountry.com.
Dietz is a member of the Pennsylvania Outdoor Writers Association. Contact the writer: firstname.lastname@example.org
Caitlin Heaney West is the content editor for Access NEPA and oversees the Early Access blog in addition to working as a copy editor and staff writer for The Times-Tribune. An award-winning journalist, she is a summa cum laude graduate of Shippensburg University and also earned a master’s degree from Marywood University. Caitlin joined the Times-Shamrock family in 2009 and lives in Scranton. Contact: email@example.com; 570-348-9100 x5107; or @cheaneywest