I am really excited to write this blog post. Not only will it be the first entry in our “The People” category, which is set aside for those characters we’ll cross paths with in this adventure through life – but it has also just been really awesome to get to know the Shays from Matamoras PA!

The RV park we’re currently staying at is owned by an older couple, Charlie & Judy Shay. They are definitely an active, entrepreneurial couple! The park is on their land, along with a restaurant they built and ran for many years, and a host of other treasures left over from past and current businesses. It’s really inspiring to talk with them and find out more details about their business ventures, as well as local and family history.

Earlier this week while walking around the property with Charlie, I was treated to a private tour of the Riverside Inn restaurant. I don’t know what led to it more – my curiosity about what it looked like inside, or Charlie’s eagerness to show it off. He had every reason to. The first week we were here at the Tri-State RV Park, Judy explained that she had arranged and hosted 998 weddings in the Inn before they closed it’s doors to scale back how much they were putting into all of their businesses. I now know why they were that busy!


Hand built and family operated for nearly 30 years.

The original structure was a barn on the property and was completely built without nails. It is old world craftsmanship on display and Charlie kept as much of that original structure as he could. The rest of the place he filled in with a massive banquet and dance hall in the back, with a large restaurant and bar area in the front half. The kitchen isn’t a side note either, with enough room and equipment to create just about anything you could dream up for your wedding or event menu.

Above the front banquet area is a walk around 2nd story that over looks one of the dance floors. At the end of the building, where they once lifted bails of hay to store, the barstools now ring the banisters and a grand bar stands – made out of the original wood flooring of the hay loft.

Walking around the place was one thing, but hearing the stories of how the bathroom decor got chosen and then built by Charlie, and how the bar was assembled, and the grills were hand welded by Charlie, it became clear that this building was far more than it seemed on the surface.

That’s just how Charlie is, I am finding out. Everywhere on the property there are construction vehicles hidden just out of sight, or sometimes in plain sight as developments continue to happen. Tucked in a garage is a large diesel generator to keep things humming along if the power goes out during the winter months, which was, of course, salvaged and rebuilt by you know who. Next to that is a trailer that is the home of a VW-based clown car. On the other side of the large historic house in the family garage sits a race car, that just last month made quick times at the local track. And of course a handful of trailers they have lived in or traveled with over the many years they’ve been together, which are all being cleaned and restored to become rentals for people passing through for a night. The entire property is a cross between a museum and an antique store!

Over memorial day weekend, the plan involved a lot of BBQ. It was all cooked on one of 2 custom and hand built (of course) trailers worthy of competition cooking. Of course to top it off there were quite a few bottles of Charlie Shay’s Gourmet BBQ Sauce.

Charlie, the legend

Charlie, the legend

Over the four months we lived in the Tri-State area, I was honored to have Charlie regale me with tales of his adventures in the world and in business. I really enjoy meeting people with a story. Meeting a couple with this many stories is incredible and so inspiring. I’ll also spend a bit of time in the next few months putting a little more sweat and elbow grease into my own small businesses…

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