Rendezvous in the Ozarks Featured

Written by  Phillip Jones
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Get Toyota Cruisers & Trucks Magazine on the Google Play Store!Get Toyota Cruisers & Trucks Magazine on the App StoreThe 650 acres at Mulberry Mountain Lodging & Events in Arkansas is nestled in the hilly Ozark National Forest and serves as the ideal environment for the overland-themed expo “Rendezvous in the Ozarks”. Event organizer Randy Putt came up with the idea while attending Overland Expo West in 2014. He wanted something in the central part of the U.S., according to Randy: “As I watched the number of overland related Facebook groups and vendors from the central US grow over the last two years, I decided to start Natural State Overland specifically to host this event, promote Tread Lightly principles, and showcase the beauty of the Natural State!”

Rendezvous in the Ozarks

He was certainly onto something. Being the inaugural year, Randy was amazed at the attendance numbers:  over 350 people from eleven states arrived in 163 trucks, 57 of which were Toyotas. In addition to the traditional raffle, Randy promoted a brand registration challenge for the most vehicles registered from July 18 through August 17. Toyota owners were awarded with their own raffle. 

Rendezvous in the Ozarks

Vendor participation was strong. Randy reported that, “13 vendor booths were on site, and another 12 vendors unable to attend donated to the raffle. We gave away about $5000 worth of product and gift certificates including two roof top tents, two awnings, two 12v fridges, and a 9,500lb winch.”

Rendezvous in the Ozarks

When asked what he hoped attendees came away with, Randy explained, “I wanted to create an event that gave those who are interested in the overland lifestyle in the Central U.S. an opportunity to gather ina family-friendly atmosphere in the heart of the beautiful Ozark National Forest. It was my desire for them to meet like-minded individuals, learn from others, have the opportunity to experience some of the area trails, and visit with vendors and learn about the great products they have available.”Randy is already planning for next year. “The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive with everyone indicating they would attend again and bring friends,” explained Randy. He is hoping to finalize date and location by the beginning of January 2018.

Rendezvous in the Ozarks

Randy’s creation of Natural State Overland LLC is for more than just event planning. He wants to utilize his organization to promote Tread Lightly principles to keep the trails open in the Ozark and Ouachita National Forests in Arkansas. 

“Natural State Overland is not just about overland style travel, it's a state of mind. It's making a conscious choice to get out and enjoy our beautiful country and to be an active member of the off-road community in support of Tread Lightly principles.” Randy’s heart is certainly in the right place. His desire for participants in this outdoor sport is to be “good stewards of our natural resources, and to be active in both local and national efforts to keep trails open. We can help preserve access to our public lands for future generations.”

Follow Natural State Overland on their website and Facebook page:

www.naturalstateoverland.org

www.facebook.com/groups/naturalstateoverland

List of participating vendors: 

https://www.naturalstateoverland.org/vendor-booths

 

 

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Fall 2017 Toyota Cruisers & Trucks

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