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The FIRST Overland Expo East

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Overland Expo East 2014 - Toyota Magazine

Blue Ridge Mountains, early autumn, and a slew of adventurers of all types. That pretty much describes the first Overland Expo east of the Mississippi.

During the first weekend in October, like thousands of other overland enthusiasts I traveled to Asheville, North Carolina to see how an eastern Overland Expo would fare. The location, a large private ranch near Fletcher, NC is everything you would imagine in a great outdoor venue. Dirt roads, log cabins, and (unlike the Western version of this event) a lake full of water.

Also unlike the Mormon Lake location, the layout of the event seemed a little more spread out and random. There was a main road that most people walked down, but instead of setting up booths in a linear fashion, vendors chose a more natural way of organizing. Many parked vehicles on an angle in order to have a nice campsite with their neighbors. Many trailers were circled in the manner of pioneers circling wagons. The overall feel of the property and event was more intimate, despite the additional space between vendors.

Like all Overland Expo Events, the classes were top notch. I had the opportunity to sit in on a few courses, but my favorite was hearing Rhonda Cahill and Rachelle Croft talk about navigation through the lense of their recent Rallye Aicha des Gazelles adventure. As a long time map & compass nerd and survival instructor, it’s always exciting to see great navigation information being passed along.

What I found most intriguing about this event though, were the visitors. This is only the second time I’ve had the opportunity to converse with fellow enthusiasts that reside in the much more populated eastern half of the country. While the western Expo consists of many multiple-time attendees, this show brought out many more people that are curious about our hobby of overlanding.

In comparison to the western ‘main’ Overland Expo, I would say that I certainly enjoy the location more. This event was a little smaller, which I think leads to that community feeling in a more profound way than the larger event. I’m sure in time the eastern Expo will grow, but hopefully that community is not lost.

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