The Northwest Automotive Press Association (NWAPA) has set its annual Activity Vehicle of the Year competition — better known in professional automotive circles as “Mudfest” — for April 30 to May 2. This will be the fourth year the nationally-recognized event will be held in Mason County. The event will headquarter at Alderbrook while the actual competition will take place at The Ridge Motorsports Park in Shelton. “The facilities and amenities we find in Mason County are just perfect for this event,” stated NWAPA President John Vincent. “They provide a great variety of testing venues and fantastic accommodations for our members, as well as the numerous manufacturer’s representatives who will be attending the event.”
The event is a head-to-head on and off-road competition between the newest Crossover and full Sport Utility Vehicles, judged by NWAPA members and other invited professional automotive journalists. Every major manufacturer sends their newest and most capable vehicles — and their top media representatives to the event. The winners often use the recognition they receive from Mudfest in their national advertising campaigns.
Mudfest is considered to be the nation’s premier head-to-head manufacturer’s capability competition, and is listed on the national professional automotive calendar. Vehicles are evaluated for handling, braking, acceleration, and other characteristics as well as their ability to handle a wide variety of tough off-road conditions. The Ridge builds a special off-road course just for the event — which is not open to the public.
The three-day event will directly generate in excess of $600,000 in business revenue in Mason County. Not only will Alderbrook benefit — which in addition to filling almost every room, will also host breakfast, reception, and dinner events all sponsored by automotive manufacturers. So will The Ridge, it’s contractors, and numerous other small local ancillary and support businesses such as caterers, gas stations, car washes, and more.
Mason County was originally brought to the attention of NWAPA by Port of Allyn Executive Director Lary Coppola, who is a nationally-published auto writer himself, and a two-term, past president of NWAPA. He has also chaired Mudfest four different times in the past. “The main job of any Port District is economic development,” he said. “We recognized the opportunity for the Port to be instrumental in getting this event to Mason County, and strongly advocated for that.” Previously, Mudfest had been held in Portland for several years, so getting it moved here was an economic coup for both the Port, and for Mason County.
An additional benefit is that automotive journalism often involves a great deal of travel, and a number of freelance automotive writers also work as travel writers. Bringing them here is an opportunity to expose Mason County and its tourist amenities to a widely diverse group of non-automotive readers over a large assortment of print publications, websites and social media.