Jeeps owners love their cars, and there’s nothing we like more than getting together to go off-road. There are a number of Jeep festivals as well as company-sponsored events that allow owners—and even those without their own Jeeps—to try out their four-wheeling skills.
One of the biggest is the Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival held in Butler, PA each year that attracts thousands of people from across the country and around the world to the place where the Jeep was born; so many, in fact, that the Jeep parade held every other year has even won a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.
This year’s festival included the Babes of Bantam for the first time; a women’s only event that lets female drivers take the wheel to drive off-road, as well as through the Jeep Playground, surmounting obstacles including boulders, bridges, mud and more. I had a blast taking my Jeep, Lucille, through the course and watching other women take on the driving challenge—forget sitting in the passenger seat from now on!
More than 20,000 people attended this year’s event from 27 states and Canada, including 2,420 Jeeps and their drivers. This year’s festival was so successful, in fact, that for the first time ever, a Jeep festival will be held in fall from Sept. 29-Oct. 1, and will include use of the Jeep trails and the Jeep playground, as well as night rides. The deadline to register for the Bantam Jeep Fall Fest is August 15; more information can be found at www.bantamjeepfestival.com.
If you’re looking for a family-type vacation that revolves around your favorite vehicle, you should check out a Jeep Jamboree. These two-day, four-wheel drive adventures are held at various places around the country; upcoming trips include South Carolina, Kentucky, Alabama, Arkansas, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming. By taking part in these trips, you’re taking part in a tradition—the first Jeep Jamboree was held back in 1953. While the cost depends on the individual trip, the event does include family plan pricing to make it more affordable, and all ticket prices include land-use fees, instruction and three meals each day. Learn more at www.jeepjamboreeusa.com.
Jeep Beach, in Daytona Beach, FL, is one of the largest Jeep events in the nation, and includes five days of off-site riding, concerts, scavenger hunts, vendor displays and more. One of the most unique things about this event is that every dollar raised goes to support charities throughout central Florida—so you can have a great time while doing a good thing! A $100 registration fee covers you and everyone in your Jeep (who has a seat belt), so it’s affordable for friends and family to join. Check out www.jeepbeach.com for info on next year’s event, which will take place April 24-28.
Even if you don’t have your own Jeep, some resorts will let you find out what it’s like to drive one. At Nemacolin Woodlands in Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands, for example, guests can sign up for the Jeep Off-Road Driving Academy, where instructors guide drivers through 20 miles of rugged trails; other options include ride-alongs, or the chance to bring your own Jeep for a 90-minute trail ride. And at the Lajitas Golf Resort and Spa in Texas, you can rent a Jeep for the chance to go off-roading in Big Bend National Park—guided tours in the state park and on private land are also available through local outfitters.
This is only a smattering of Jeep events around the country; most local Jeep groups have Facebook pages that publicize their own events. With so many opportunities available, there’s no reason you shouldn’t get in gear!
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Freelance writer. Road tripper. Travel diva. Dog rescuer. Writes for food or kibbles and bits. Based out of Pittsburgh, PA, via Juneau, AK, Vanessa has been a freelance writer for more than 25 years, and has been published in many diverse publications,including GEEK, Recreation News, CATS, VFW magazine, the Antique Trader and more. An avid traveler, she always brings home amazing memories...and often more dogs. Follow Vanessa on her blog, Mood Swings and Other Things, on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram.
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