2017 UTV Invasion: Sand, Speed and Smiles

Invading St. Anthony dunes for epic off-road fun

Sep. 28, 2017 By Seth Fargher

The Idaho Dunes UTV invasion is one of the fastest growing UTV events in the country. Now in its fourth year, the event draws attendees from coast to coast to St. Anthony Idaho over Labor Day weekend to enjoy four full days of off-road related activities. From guided group rides with industry celebrities to live music and an expansive vendor area, the UTV Invasion offers something for everyone.

If You Build it They Will Come

Location poses one of the greatest challenges to executing a successful event in St. Anthony due to its distance from other popular dune locations like Glamis and the Oregon dunes. For that reason, organizers have worked hard to increase the value of the event and make it more worthwhile for attendees. There's no entry fee or cost to participate in any of the activities. While the event is hosted by Idaho Dunes RV Resort, anyone from any of the surrounding campgrounds is able to participate free of charge.

From opening ceremonies on Thursday morning to the charity raffle on Sunday afternoon, there's no lag in the excitement for anyone. Daily group rides are a fun way to connect with other enthusiasts and they provide a great opportunity for first timers to get acquainted with the dunes. This year all group ride participants were given a raffle ticket at the start of the ride with a prize drawing being held at the main stage at the conclusion of the ride. The raffle serves as a way to encourage people to participate as well as creates more value for attendees with the possibility of winning some prizes.

Two events that always draw a crowd are the Show-n-Shine and UTV teeter totter. The Show-n-Shine gives industry builders as well as weekend warriors a chance to show off their custom UTVs in front of a large audience. It's really impressive to see what some of these DIY guys who don't work in the industry are able to come up with.

The UTV Teeter totter is probably more for the spectators than it is for the contestants but that's part of what makes it so comical. Competitors inch their UTVs up the ramp attempting to find the perfect balance point that will level the ramp and then hold it for eight seconds. It's harder than it looks and it's easy to tell who knows what they're doing and who doesn't. Orange County California native Steve Watson ended up taking top honors for the second year in a row.

Another exciting thing about the UTV Invasion is the opportunity to meet industry celebrities like NASCAR driver Greg Biffle, Motocross and Supercross champion Damon Bradshaw and Hubert Roland, everyone's favorite redneck from the Nitro Circus, who all happen to be UTV enthusiasts as well. And they aren't just attending but actively participate in the event. For example Greg Biffle lead a group ride through the dunes and Damon Bradshaw served as a guest judge for the Show-n-Shine competition. Just one of the many ways the event brings people together from all walks of life and creates exciting experiences for attendees.

Connecting All Corners of the UTV Industry

Due to the rapid growth of the event and the number of companies eager to participate, organizers expanded the vendor area, increasing the outdoor portion as well as nearly doubling the size of the covered vendor mall. Having reputable aftermarket companies participate in the event not only gives them an opportunity to connect with consumers, but it adds value for attendees and really enhances the event atmosphere. Participation by OEMs has a way of legitimizing the event as well and for the second year in a row, Can-Am was on site allowing attendees to demo the new 2018 Maverick lineup.

Amazingly, the entire vendor area was sold out a month prior to the event with more companies trying to attend in the days leading up to the event. This certainly speaks to the popularity of the event as well as tells us we can expect to see it continue to grow.

Center Stage

Of course the main attraction at the UTV Invasion are the dunes themselves. Spanning over 10,000 acres and reaching as tall as 400 feet, St. Anthony offers some of the largest sand dunes in the world. To an off-road enthusiast, the dunes are really something to behold.

Choke Cherry Hill is a popular gathering spot to watch drag racers battle for bragging rights on what is probably the steepest sand dune in North America. Devil's Dune is another popular landmark where you will find countless ATVs, UTVs and sand rails carving around the massive sand dune experiencing the full weight of gravity. When the sun goes down, Thunder Mountain is the place to be as hundreds of machines congregate at the hill and put on a spectacular light show.

Giving Back

While most of the event revolves around having fun, an important aspect involves giving back to the industry. The benefit raffle on Sunday afternoon serves as the grand finale of the event as attendees are able to walk away with thousands of dollars in prizes with all of the proceeds going to a worthy cause.

This year's benefactor was Trevon McCuen, an attendee who was diagnosed with cancer earlier in the year. McCuen and his family have been active participants in the UTV Invasion every year since its inception, making it an easy decision to support them with the proceeds from this year's raffle. Even kids were able to get in on the action as a separate kids raffle was held for the little tykes earlier in the weekend.

In terms of a family friendly UTV event with plenty to offer, we'd give the UTV Invasion five out of five stars. The dunes are an off-roaders paradise and when combined with several days of fun, food and enjoying all aspects of the industry with thousands of other UTV enthusiasts, it's easy to see why this event is becoming one of the must attend events of the year.

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