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Holiday fun in the Wilds: Massive Pa. tourism region prepares for summer crowds

Irene and Gene Feerrar are seen at their Happy Acres Resort in Waterville earlier this week. Gene Feerrar said there will be between 400 and 500 people who will be lodging with them for the holiday week. Nestled on 60 acres in Lycoming County, the resort attracts people from as far away as Canada.
Lorena Beniquez
/
WVIA News
Irene and Gene Feerrar are seen at their Happy Acres Resort in Waterville earlier this week. Gene Feerrar said there will be between 400 and 500 people who will be lodging with them for the holiday week. Nestled on 60 acres in Lycoming County, the resort attracts people from as far away as Canada.

Irene and Gene Feerrar were surveying their Happy Acres Resort in Waterville earlier this week, ensuring their current guests and the hundreds to come are comfortable for the July 4th holiday in the Pennsylvania Wilds.

The couple made their rounds in a golf cart as they ensured cabins and campgrounds were perfectly appointed.

“We are packed. It started last week, “ Gene Feerrar said.

“And the phone hasn’t stopped ringing,” Irene added.

Gene Feerrar said that there will be between 400 and 500 people who will be lodging with them for the holiday week. Nestled on 60 acres in Lycoming County, the resort attracts people from as far away as Canada.

“We are centrally located to New York, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Ohio,” Irene Feerrar said.

Hyner View State Park, located in Clinton County in the Pennsylvania Wilds region, includes a free pool.
Courtesy Clinton County Economic Partnership
Hyner View State Park, located in Clinton County in the Pennsylvania Wilds region, includes a free pool.

'Nature at its best'

That is true of both Happy Acres and the Pennsylvania Wilds.

One of the state's 11 official tourism regions, tha area encompasses over 2 million acres of public land — more than Yellowstone National Park — sprawling across 12 and a half counties.

“There are some incredible fireworks displays and parades throughout the PA Wilds for Independence Day, and visitors appreciate being able to relax in the outdoors and explore all of the outdoor recreation opportunities,” said Communications Manager Britt Madera with the PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship, a nonprofit whose mission is to integrate conservation and economic development within the Pennsylvania Wilds communities.

According to the PA Wilds Center for Entrepreneurship, the region is the biggest tract of green space between Chicago and New York. It is home to two nationally designated "Wild and Scenic" rivers, the largest wild elk herd in the Northeast, and some of the darkest skies in the country.

“It’s nature at its best. We have fishing, ATV [trails], biking, hiking and birdwatching, which has become super popular, “ said Kira Rosamilia, the chamber/tourism director with the Clinton County Economic Partnership.

Affordable vacations

An outdoors vacation also offers affordability.

“With the economy the way it is, it is more affordable travel. The great outdoors taps into every financial level that you are in. You can hike with dollar store shoes or shoes from REI,” said Rosamilia, referencing a large outdoor gear chain.

Tourists also can cut down on expenses by grilling their own food and camping. In addition, there are multiple state parks offering free services. Rosamillia points out the free pool at Hyner State Park in Clinton County. And for those rainy days, tourists can travel to nearby Lock Haven for budget friendly cultural activities.

“There is the Piper Aviation Museum which is super affordable for families. We have the Heisey House Museum of the Clinton County Historical Society, which is donation only, and then there is the Millbrook Playhouse,” said Rosamilia.

Local economies also earn needed revenue from tourists visiting local communities or state parks.

“These visitors bring with them an influx of cash, which translates to real dollars being spent at small businesses like restaurants, breweries, bed and breakfasts, gift shops, outdoor outfitters, and many more,” said Madera.

For the Feerrars and their Happy Acres Resort, this July 4th holiday week has already proven profitable.

“We are ahead of last year,” Gene Feerrar said.