The Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival has finalized plans for the third annual event celebrating Butler, Pa., as the birthplace of the Jeep. New this year, the Festival will take place over three full days, June 14-16, 2013, at Cooper's Lake Campground, just 10 minutes west of the previous location.
"We're excited to grow the event into three days so Jeepers can make the Festival be part of a new Father's Day weekend tradition," said Patti Jo Lambert, Festival director. "The additional day gives Jeep enthusiasts the chance to have more fun with their family, whether they spend all three days in Butler County or attend the Festival and then return home for other family activities."
The event will feature the popular Jeep Invasion in downtown Butler on Friday night, June 14, as well as a new off-road playground, mud pit, rock crawl, trail rides, WWII encampment, history displays, national vendors, how-to clinics, flea market and more each day.
New Activities Offered in 2013
Three Full Days of Fun
All Festival activities will now take place on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Cooper's Lake. The Festival will open each day at 9 a.m. and will close at 4 p.m. on Friday, 5 p.m. on Saturday and 3 p.m. on Sunday.
Bigger, Better Trails
The property at Cooper's Lake will give off-roaders the chance to try new challenging trails. At least five different trails will be offered for both stock and intermediate Jeeps. Some trails will offer additional challenges for those with Jeeps equipped to handle such obstacles. Each trail will be nearly triple the length of those previously offered.
Expanded Times for Mystery Road Rally and Jeep Team Challenge
The Mystery Road Rally and Jeep Team Challenge activities will be expanded to more hours on all three days to accommodate more participants. The Rally is a scavenger hunt that takes Jeepers on various routes throughout Butler County where they need to answer questions about places along the route. The Jeep Team Challenge features fun obstacles for a driver and passenger to do together. Last year's teams had fun playing "broom ball," driving in reverse, smashing water balloons and more. Prizes will be awarded to the winners of both activities.
Glacial Interpretive Driving Tour
On Friday afternoon, Jeeps can enjoy a drive on Butler County's scenic back roads and also learn about our geologic history. Three groups of Jeeps will visit three interesting geological formations made by glaciers that covered the area during the last Ice Age. Interpretive staff from Moraine and McConnells Mill State Parks and Jennings Environmental Education Center will offer a short hike and share details about each feature. The activity is geared for all ages.
Expanded Show 'n Shine Classes and Trophies
Stock and modified trophies will be awarded in most classes, giving Jeepers even more chances to bring home a prize they can proudly display. All winners will be determined by a panel of judges with the exception of Best of Show which will be voted on by the registered participants.
Little Jeepers Show 'n Shine
Kids of all ages will want to join in the fun and participate in the Little Jeepers Show 'n Shine. Wooden toy Jeep kits will be available for purchase via the online store (available in February) and at the event. Jeeps can be painted and modified in any way and brought to the event for the competition or they can be painted on-site. Prizes will be awarded in various classes.
Several different free competitions are planned for all participants including a teeter totter and more. A trophy will be awarded to the first place male and female participant.
BBQ, Band and Bonfire
The fun continues Saturday night at the Great Pig Out featuring an all-you-can-eat pig roast with all of the trimmings. New in 2013, hang out with your new Jeep friends around a huge bonfire and listen to the sounds of a live band. Tickets to the Great Pig Out must be purchased in advance and are required for entry to the band and bonfire. Registered campers at Cooper's Lake Campground may also enjoy the band and bonfire.
Father's Day Breakfast
Start off Father's Day with a hearty breakfast of all-you-can-eat pancakes, eggs and bacon on Sunday morning. Breakfast must be purchased in advance through the registration process or via the online store.
Participant Package Offers Savings
New this year, participants can purchase the Festival Package which offers a 30 percent discount on select activities. The package include the Jeep Invasion, Playground/On-Site Trails, Ruff 'n Tuff and the Mystery Road Rally. Free Festival decals are also included. The price increases after March 31 and is not available for those who register on-site.
Friendly dogs on leashes may join their pet parents at the Festival.
Participant Packets Will Be Mailed
To make the trip to Butler even more convenient, participant packets will be mailed in late May. Pre-registered participants will now be able to proceed directly to Festival activities as long as items included in the packet are on display when needed and all passengers have spectator wristbands. On-site registration will be available at Cooper's Lake beginning at 8 a.m. each day and also at Clearview Mall in Butler on Friday, June 14 between 2 and 7 p.m.
Other Festival Information
Online registration for participants and volunteers will be available in mid-January. In addition to the new Festival Package, participants can purchase Jeep activities a la carte. The deadline for online registration is May 19, 2013.
Cooper's Lake Campground is now accepting camping reservations. Campsites can be reserved and selected online. Prices are $10 per person per night. Children's fees are $3 per person per night. A two-night stay is required (June 14 and 15). Electric and sewage are available for an additional cost. The campground features large sites that can accommodate a variety of group sizes. Call Cooper's direct with questions at 724-368-8710. Pets and campfires are welcome.
Volunteers are needed! It takes more than 300 volunteers to execute the Festival. Please volunteer some time to make this year's Festival the best one yet. Jeep owners who volunteer approximately 8 hours will receive some Festival activities for free! Non-Jeepers will receive benefits too. A prize valued at nearly $100 will be awarded to the person who refers the most volunteers for the event.
"We're excited about all of the new things we are offering this year, and we believe Jeepers will love having the event at Cooper's Lake," said Lambert. "We have focused on creating an event all Jeep owners will enjoy, including those who love the history and military aspects of the Jeep to those who can't wait to get their Jeep dirty in the mud pit. Our goal is to pay tribute to the Bantam jeep, the father of all Jeeps, and we look forward to welcoming everyone back home to Butler on Father's Day weekend."
During the event's inaugural year in 2011, the Festival set a Guinness World Record for the largest parade of Jeeps with 1,106 Jeeps participating in the parade. Last year, 1,485 Jeeps from 24 states participated in the event, a 14 percent increase from the first year.
For more information or to register, visit www.bantamjeepfestival.com or call 724-234-2291.