Activity Board: Although we cannot officially sponsor cave trips, OTR is about fellowship and caving. So the Chair created the Activity Board (#17 on Map, next door to the Event Tent), where individuals and grottos are encouraged to advertise their cave trips and other on- or off-site activities. Please jot down a short description, equipment and expertise required and the max number of people who may attend. Indicate departure and return time, as well as where to meet up. Please post your trip and invite a new OTR friend to go caving with you. You’ll be glad you did!
BrewCrew: For those of legal drinking age, admission to OTR includes draft beer for those with a wristband. Located under the Main Pavilion, the taps will be open from 8pm until 2am on Friday. On Saturday, servers will be on duty from 6pm until 2am for the Steampunk Ball. On Sunday, the pourers will pour from 8pm until 12 midnight. What’s on tap? The BrewCrew offers Coke products and water, as well as Bud Lite, Yuengling Lager, Yuengling Oktoberfest and Goose Island Noble Pils. In the interest of fairness, please also see the listing below about our on-site drinking establishment, Cooters Pub.
Campsite Competition: Another of our fun traditions is the contest to decorate your campsite according to the current OTR Theme. This one is perhaps the most hotly-contested competitions between grottos and we’ve seen some truly elaborate, ridiculous and impressive displays over the years. Sign up by 1pm Saturday at the Contest Registration Board at Cooters Pub.
Coat Drive: OTR is determined to show the local community that we cavers truly care, and we do more than just descend on the local community for one weekend every year. OTR once again is collecting winter coats that are then donated to a local Charity. Last year’s first-ever effort was a big success, so we’re doing it once again. Please drop-off all sizes of new, gently used and clean coats at Registration and Cooters Pub. Those who donate are entered for a drawing for free admission to OTR 2019.
Contests: OTR Caver Contests are one of the funnest reasons to attend OTR. Where else can you win a prize for undressing, and then redressing, all while inside your sleeping bag? All OTR Caver Contests will have bigger prizes, and there’s a brand new overall Grotto Participation Prize for this year ($250 CASH)! Sign up beginning at 12 noon on Thursday at Cooters, or ask for Sharon Brinkman-Windle –she’s never far away. Some of the contests include Sleeping Bag (described above), Beer Chugging (12 & 32oz. categories), Blindfolded Carbide Lamp Assembly, and other more athletic challenges like Vertical Climbing and the epic Speleo-Olympics Obstacle Course. A complete schedule of Contests and the time and location of Awards can be found at Cooters Pub (–and NOT in the Contest trailer). Staff assistance will be available at times.
The Coot & Holler Gazette: OTR’s daily newsletter is usually available each morning at the message boards, at Cooters Pub and at the OTR Merch tent. Announcements for the next day’s issue may be submitted via the form available at Cooters Pub or dropped off at the Gazette office (Map #2).
Cooters Pub: OTR is pleased to offer carefully chosen craft beers to imbibe in a pleasant, casual atmosphere. (These fine libations are not free of charge, sorry.) Cooters is centrally located (#13 on Map) and hosts casual get-togethers, committee meetings and live music.
Doo-Dah Parade: In true celebratory New Orleans fashion, OTR holds a parade of true Steampunk decadence. This year, it will be held Saturday morning at 10am. If you have a submission or parade entry, please show up at the Gate ahead of time and register with the Doo-Dah Liaison, who may or may not be riding a Penny Farthing (giant front wheel) bicycle. This year’s Doo-Dah Grand Marchioness will be noneother than Speleobooks’ Esteemed Empress Emily von Speleo. Remember, bribing the judges is encouraged!
Event Tent: Following a successful debut last year, the Event Tent (Map #16) may soon become one of OTR’s most popular amenities. Hear about the cave rescue in Thailand, Caving Yoga, how to sketch for cave mapping, bat studies in Fiji or the first ever American caving expedition to Cambodia –and more! The complete schedule is posted outside the tent, on Facebook and in the daily newsletter. We’ve also enlarged the tent and added more seating and a sound system. PS – here’s a call for presentations for 2019!
Fire Artists: The ‘FARTists’ (Map #11), are volunteers who will create a customized OTR keepsake for you to take home. Just pick out a piece of wood and tell them what you’d like branded on it! There is no cost, but they always appreciate being offered a cold drink or snack.
Gathering of Believers: On Sunday morning, you’re invited to meet with other OTR cavers at the Memorial Garden (Map #3) for a short, non-judgmental, non-denominational gathering for the purpose of fellowship, devotion and prayer in thanks for God’s blessings. The Gathering of Believers is at 8am Sunday at the Memorial Garden (rain location: Cooters Pub).
HamNet: If you’re a caver who’s into HAM radio (aka: the Speleonics Section), you probably already know that HamNet, located at 147.570 MHZ, is available 7pm every evening, beginning Friday. If you didn’t know, you do now!
Home Brewers Forum: If you’re into home brewing beer, then meet-up with host Bill Ridgely, OTR life member and organizer of the annual Homebrewers Forum. It will take place on Saturday at the TAFO Grotto camp (exact timing TBD, but usually after the Doo Dah parade). Cheers!
Memorial Garden: Our beautifully landscaped Memorial Garden (Map #3) contains Lutz Rock and a plaque with the names of dearly departed OTR brothers and sisters. Bring a lawn chair and meet there at 6pm Thursday for the OTR Opening Ceremony, coupled with a brief Remembrance of those who have left us in the past year. Attendees also may step up to the mic and share brief anecdotes about our beloved friends who have passed on. For more info, contact Mike Oatney at Standing Stone Grotto or firstname.lastname@example.org.
OTR Museum: We’re excited to announce the ribbon cutting of The Dale Ibberson OTR Museum (Map #7). The museum has steadily developed since the 2009 passing of Dale, the Pennsylvania caver who kept an extensive personal collection of OTR memorabilia. You’re invited to the ribbon cutting with Kelley Deem and Judi Stack (Dale’s life partner) Friday at 11am.
OTR web site: www.otr.org has undergone some changes in the past two years, and we’re grateful to webmaster Zach Simonetti for his expertise with the ongoing rebuild –keep checking the progress! Zach also is part of the registration system redesign team, which includes Pat Cuttier, Charlie Williams, Dr. Kat Crispin, Bobbie Seng, Shack and Scott Baker. (btw, OTR also has a Facebook page.)
Roots & Toots Gathering: Hosted by Fang & Steve Luke, the 3rd Annual Roots & Toots social will offer an opportunity for fellowship, a beverage or two and the sharing of stories of OTRs long past. If you have attended 40 or more OTRs, meet at Cooters Pub on Friday, from 1-3pm.
Sauna: In the caving community, the OTR Sauna area (Map #26) is legendary. It features a huge hot tub, which is 5-feet-deep at the center, uses ‘treated’ water and is heated with professional plumbing. The Sauna area also has a ‘cold tub’, two dry sauna buildings, a steam lodge, screened private access to the Tygart River, a private volleyball area and a large, forced-air fire pit with sanitized bench seating all around. The area also has a wall of lockers for when you change into your ‘birthday suit’ (–clothing and all other items, like cell phones and cameras, are not allowed). One exception is Saturday, when textiles are allowed from 10am until 12 noon. Otherwise, the Sauna is open from 10am until 4am daily. FYI, the Sauna will undergo a total re-do in the coming year. The hot tubs and saunas will be moved to different spots and new, permanent structures will be built, which will minimize the massive Sauna area set-up normally required. Fundraising for this huge project is ongoing and donations are still needed. Thanks!
TRA Elections: As owner of the land where OTR happens, The Robertson Association holds elections for the governing Board it maintains as a nonprofit organization. It’s up to you, the membership, to please vote for board members. You’ll notice campaign advertisements posted around the site. Take a look at the candidates and cast your ballot on Sunday, from 9am until 4pm, at the Pavilion election table.
Vendors Row: Old Timers Reunion is the place where an array of caving-related vendors and conservation groups all come together to offer you the latest caving gear, delicious food items, beautiful jewelry, clothing and much more. No need to search endlessly on Amazon —you’ve got all the great caving-related businesses all right here in one place. Please patronize our vendor friends!
Virgin Guide: If this is your first-ever OTR, you’re gonna love being here for years to come. But you’re only going to enjoy the ‘Virgin’ designation once, so make the most of it! We’ve prepared a special pamphlet to guide you through your first OTR and to suggest some ways to have fun while you’re here. The Scavenger Hunt is a great way to meet new cavers and get to know your way around. Organizers distribute Virgin Guides at the Thursday night bonfire.
The ‘Wild Side’: Some dedicated OTR volunteers put their heads and hands to work in developing this foliated spot on our property, where native plant species thrive and birds and bees bide their time bantering with beautiful blue butterflies while babbling with bravado about blossoms, beer and something else beginning with the letter ‘B’. This little piece of heaven has trails, nooks and grottos as well as a foot pond where you can relax and soak your feet for a spell. Come take a walk on the Wild Side! (Map #24)
Wine Competition: The 9th Annual OTR Amateur Wine Competition will be held this weekend, with judging on Sunday at 2:30pm. Wines will earn points for appearance, aroma, body, taste and finish. To enter, sign up at the Forks of Cheat Winery tent (on Vendors Row, next to First Aid) by Saturday at 9pm. You must provide one bottle of your wine, the unused portion of which can be returned to you after the judging. Also, don’t miss the post-competition Wine Makers Discussion Group, hosted by J. Eric Deal, the owner of Forks of Cheat Winery & Distillery, Morgantown, West Virginia.
WOTR Radio Station: The unofficial OTR radio station is WOTR, located at 97.7 FM, which caver Andy Neff has been running for many years. Be sure to stop by the station (Map #27) and request a song.
Yard Sale: On Sunday morning, starting at 9am, OTR will host its Pavilion Yard Sale and Flea Market. It features free space for anyone wishing to offer anything for whatever price. The sale ends at 1pm.
Zip Line: Hey, have you ever tried a zip line? Well, now’s your chance (it’s one of the many OTR amenities)! Bring your own gear (harness and helmet), if you have it, to the zip line platform (Map #19), which operates Thursday 12-3pm, Friday 11am-2pm then 4pm until dark (8:30ish). There is no zip line Saturday (due to caver contests). There might be some zip lining Sunday morning after the staff wakes up. And maybe, JUST maybe, there will be a random special Sunday Evening zip line (clothing optional). Disclaimer: Zip Line operation is weather dependent. P.S. here’s a tip: Terry LOVES corn dogs!