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Show Featuring PA Great Outdoors Wins Emmy Awards

Thursday, June 27, 2019 @ 12:06 AM

Posted by Aly Delp

Best Host EmmyJEFFERSON CO., Pa. (EYT) – The Pennsylvania Great Outdoors Visitor Bureau’s region is earning some recognition after a show featuring many area attractions won two Emmy Awards over the weekend.

Erik Hastings, better known as “Erik The Travel Guy,” and his crew first visited the local region two years ago to film a Pennsylvania Great Outdoors episode of Beyond Your Backyard, a PBS educational travel series that tours destinations across the globe.

According to John Straitiff, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors Visitors Bureau, it all began when Kevin Allen, a producer for the program, reached out to him about the possibility of filming an episode in the PA Great Outdoors Region.

The episode, appropriately titled “PA’s Great Outdoors Region,” aired on May 1, 2018, and featured a number of destinations in our region, ranging through Clarion, Forest, Jefferson, Elk, and Cameron Counties.

The episode begins at the Lilly of the Valley on Millionaire’s Row in Ridgway where Hastings talks to a local historian about the story behind our region.

From there, Hastings moves on to the Straub Brewery in St. Marys, the Elk Country Visitor Center, the Gateway Lodge and Cook Forest State Park, including the Forest Cathedral, Blackbird Distillery in Brookville, BWP Bats in Reynoldsville, and even meets Punxsutawney Phil himself in Punxsutawney.


Finally, the show moves on to Foxburg to see the nation’s oldest golf course at the Foxburg Country Club and to take a boat ride on the Allegheny River, before wrapping up at Lincoln Hall, where Hastings learns about the Allegheny Riverstone Center for the Arts and the Redbrick Gallery.

According to Straitiff, the episode created quite a stir, right from the beginning.

“We got instant feedback,” Straitiff told

“It was very unique, the kind of response we got. This really exposed us to a wider market.”

Straitiff noted that most travelers to the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors Region, and most of the marketing for the region, are from within about a three-hour radius by car.

“This was the first time we reached out to a national TV audience, and we’re very happy with the response.”

Erik Hastings interviewing Dale Luthringer, the Environmental Education Specialist for Cook Forest State Park.

Erik Hastings interviewing Dale Luthringer, the Environmental Education Specialist for Cook Forest State Park.

While the response to the episode was already enough to catch some attention, the recent Emmy Awards created even more of a stir.

Beyond Your Backyard was nominated for three awards, including Arts & Entertainment -Program/Special, Editor/Program (Non-News), and Program Host/Moderator, and managed to take home the awards for Best Program/Special and Best Program Host/Moderator.

“The fact that it was nominated in three categories was huge, and the fact that it won two is even better. We are just super-excited about that,” Stratiff explained.

In fact, between the positive feedback and response from viewers and the positive reception from Pennsylvania Great Outdoors’ board and local officials, it was decided that a second Pennsylvania Great Outdoors Region episode was in order.

Earlier this month, Hastings and his crew returned to the region to shoot another episode for the upcoming third season of Beyond Your Backyard.

According to Straitiff, the next episode will include footage from the recent French and Indian War Encampment in Cook Forest, as well as Double Diamond Deer Ranch, Maple Shade Mansion Bed and Breakfast in Brockway, the Coolspring Power Museum, and even a cooking segment with Pittsburgh SBA Young Entrepreneur of the Year Zack Blose (pictured below on left) of Zack’s in New Bethlehem.


Don’t look for the second episode anytime soon, though.

Straitiff noted that Hastings and his crew are currently still on the road, visiting and filming at other destinations.

“We’re really just thrilled we were able to bring them in again, and we’re going to be on another season of Emmy-winning travel show.”

Straitiff also noted that the Pennsylvania Great Outdoors Region will have the special distinction of being the first destination to be featured twice on Beyond Your Backyard.

The second Pennsylvania Great Outdoors Region episode will air this fall.

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