Jeep owners are readying to make their way to Butler Aug. 10-12 for the second annual Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival.
Last year’s inaugural event attracted more than 1,300 Jeeps from 25 states and nearly 50,000 visitors to Butler, the birthplace of the Jeep.
"We were entirely overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of all of the Jeep owners who traveled to Butler last year for our first Festival," said Patti Jo Lambert, event director. "Our intent was to create a fabulous event that celebrated our Jeep heritage and gave Jeep enthusiasts an opportunity to admire all of the makes and models of Jeeps that were created since the very first Bantam was produced. Without realizing it at the time, we ended up creating a homecoming for Jeeps."
The event broke a Guinness World Record last year for the longest Jeep parade. It also was an opportunity for Jeep owners to show off their vehicles—and have fun with them in off-road activities. The historical element of the Jeep was showcased with a WWII Encampment and there also was an exhibit about how the first jeep was born.
Those elements and more will be offered in 2012, according to festival organizers. New additions this year include:
Jeep Invasion Street Party
The festival kicks off in downtown Butler Friday, Aug. 10 with the Jeep Invasion. The event will feature more than 1,000 Jeeps parked along Butler's Main Street and side streets. The evening event will have a party atmosphere with disc jockeys, food vendors and thousands of Jeep enthusiasts strolling up and down the streets while admiring all of the vehicles.
Downtown businesses will offer special promotions and activities to welcome attendees, including a USO Dance at the art center. Lambert added the festival's planning committee has decided to attempt to break their Guinness World Record for the Longest Parade of Jeeps in a future year.
The UnderGround Brings Concept Jeeps to Festival
The UnderGround, previously known as The Chrysler Mopar group, is taking an unprecedented step for the Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival. For the first time ever on the East Coast, seven of the group's "concept Jeeps" will be displayed together in one place for Jeep enthusiasts to admire. The Jeeps were unveiled in Moab, Utah in April and several of them currently are featured in the summer issues of several national publications, including Off-Road Adventures magazine.
"This is really a once-in-a lifetime opportunity to see Jeeps that before could only be seen in magazines or tested by national auto writers," Lambert said. "We are so excited that Jeep Corporation and The Underground recognize the success of our Festival and that they are bringing these incredible Jeeps for our attendees to see."
Three New Elements for Saturday Night
Three new events are planned for Saturday night.
- The Jeep Team Challenge features 50 Jeep owners trying their hand at entertainment with driving challenges. Watch drivers navigate while blindfolded, cheer on their reverse driving skills and see which team can make the best impression. The event will begin at 6 p.m. and is expected to be one of the highlights of the 2012 event.
- The Mystery Road Rally will give 200 Jeepers the chance to go on a scavenger hunt throughout Butler County. Eight different routes are being designed with stops at some of the county's businesses and attractions. Prizes will be awarded to the Jeep owners who correctly answer trivia questions and return to the festival closest to the pre-determined time and mileage.
- The Great Pig Out will enable Jeepers who pre-ordered tickets to feast on a traditional pig roast with all of the trimmings. The evening also will include music by Butler band Mass Transit, games and other activities designed to give attendees a chance to meet more Jeep enthusiasts and to have fun together.
Ruff 'n Tuff Competition
Another new event for 2012 is Ruff 'n Tuff. The Sunday-only event is a spinoff of the traditional Show 'n Shine and will offer Jeepers the chance to compete in some non-traditional categories. Judges will select the Jeep with the most mud, most tattoos and the most extreme among others. Trophies will be awarded to the winner in each class.
Military Collectibles/Flea Market Offers Hard-to-Find Items
The festival is inviting dealers and individuals to sell their used Jeep parts and military antiques/collectibles to attendees.
"Since so many people really enjoy the military aspect of the Jeep, we're planning an area for dealers to sell military antiques and collectibles which will expand the historical components of the event," Lambert said. "Jeep owners look forward to finding old parts that are difficult to locate so we're hoping many Jeepers will clean out their garages and rent a space at the Festival to sell their items."
Registration for booth space is still available at www.bantamjeepfestival.com.
Jeeps Through the Decades Display
Celebrating Butler's role as the birthplace of the Jeep is one of the festival's goals. New this year is a display of more than 15 Jeeps that showcase some of the major models and body styles of Jeeps during the past 71 years. Local Jeep collectors are providing the vehicles.
2011 Favorites Are Back!
Nearly all of the elements of the 2011 Festival will be back. The off-road Jeep Playground and On-Site Trails, Show 'n Shine, Bantam Jeep history exhibit, Moraine Trail Ride, World War II encampment, how-to Clinics, history speakers series and merchandise vendors from all over the nation will offer attendees and participants even more to see and do.
"We received tremendous feedback about our inaugural event, and we're excited about all we have planned for this year," Lambert said. "Many of the new aspects of the event are the direct result of comments we received from last year's attendees, and we hope everyone will come this year and see how we're committed to making the Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival a truly not-to-miss event."
Spectator Admission/Festival Details
Those who wish to come as spectators to see the Jeeps and other events may purchase spectator admission at the gate. The cost is $7 for adults and $3 for kids ages 3-12. Only cash is accepted. Festival hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday. Saturday evening activities begin at 5 p.m. and continue through 9:30 p.m. Spectators should use the East Gate entrance off of Unionville Road on Route 422.
Registration Details for Jeeps
Online registration closed July 24, but Jeepers can still register from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 9 or from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, Aug. 10 at Clearview Mall in Butler. Registration also is available onsite at the Big Butler Fairgrounds starting at 8 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 11and Sunday, Aug. 12. Jeepers may register for various activities until capacity is reached.
Vendor Registration Available
Last year's attendees enjoyed meeting all of the companies that sold a wide-variety of Jeep and other merchandise. Nearly 100 businesses or groups reserved booth space in 2011. Vendor spaces are still available for this year's festival online at www.bantamjeepfestival.com.
Information submitted by Butler County Tourism & Convention Bureau. Have news you'd like to share with Patch readers? Email information and photos to Editor Jessica Sinichak at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our Pics & Clips gallery.