BUTLER COUNTY, Pa. – The American icon, the Jeep, will be celebrated June 12-14 at the Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival in Butler County, PA., less than an hour north of Pittsburgh.
This annual homecoming event, which draws crowds of 20,000 to the birthplace of the Jeep, is celebrating the 75th birthday of the world's original Jeep. Visitors can watch a Guinness World Record take place, see a Jeep that can swim and have some fun in the mud. Jeep owners travel from more than 25 states and Canada to attend the Festival.
"The Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival is a family-friendly road trip that offers fun for all ages," said Patti Jo Lambert, Festival director. "Visitors love to cheer as they watch the Jeeps make their way through the mud pits, and they also enjoy the Show 'n Shine area where hundreds of Jeeps are displayed and judged. Our World War II encampment is like taking a step back in time as re-enactors dressed in authentic uniforms explain how Jeeps helped to win the war."
The Festival pays tribute to the Bantam Reconnaissance Car (BRC), made by Butler's own American Bantam Car Company in 1940. And since 2015 marks the 75th birthday of the BRC, the Festival is celebrating the milestone in a big way.
On June 12, the Festival will attempt to break its own Guinness World Record for the Largest Parade of Jeeps. One Jeep from every year (1940-2015) will lead the parade. More than 2,000 Jeeps will drive a 3-mile route and then fill Butler's streets for the Jeep Invasion street party where 20,000 people will turn Main Street into one of the biggest birthday parties of the year.
At the Jeep History Exhibit, visitors can see the only re-creation of the BRC that exists anywhere in the world. For the first time ever, the vehicle on which all future Jeep models was based, is returning to its birthplace. The BRC will be accompanied by about a dozen rare Jeeps from the 1940s, six provided from a private collection. One of the Jeeps featured can even swim - an amphibious Ford GPA that has the ability to drive on land and float in water. Several notable guests will also give presentations about the history of the Jeep as part of the History Speakers Series.
Kids have fun at the Little Jeeper's Playground where they can take a spin on pedal cart Jeeps or even paint their own wooden toy Jeep for a miniature Show 'n Shine competition.
Adults can also get into the action with the free Ride with A Guide activity where they can test drive a new Jeep on an off-road trail.
"The Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival is an experience that can't be found anywhere else," said Lambert. "Whether you love watching Jeeps drive over rocks and big dirt piles or you appreciate the Jeep's contributions to our military, everyone who comes here will have a great time and learn something new."
The Festival is presented by Peoples, "Your Hometown Natural Gas Company," and the parade is made possible by Omix-ADA/Rugged Ridge and XTO Energy. The Jeep History Exhibit is sponsored by Omix-ADA, one of the world's largest independent Jeep parts and accessories manufacturer, and Diehl Automotive Group is providing the Ride with a Guide activity. Learn about even more activities at www.BantamJeepFestival.com.
If You Go:
All Festival activities take place at Cooper's Lake Campground in Slippery Rock, Pa., except for the Jeep Parade and Jeep Invasion that is held in Downtown Butler. Jeep owners who want to bring their Jeep to experience all the Festival offers must register to attend. Pre-registration is available online until May 17 or when activities reach capacity, and is required for the Jeep Parade and Jeep Invasion activities. Volunteers with Jeeps can also take advantage of $100 of free Festival activities.
Daily admission for those who are not participating with their Jeep is $10 for adults and $3 for kids 3-12. The parade is free for all to see. Hours at Cooper's Lake Campground are Friday, June 12 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, June 13 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, June 14 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Jeep Parade and Jeep Invasion will be held in Downtown Butler on Friday, June 12 from 2:30 - 10 p.m.
To learn more, visit www.BantamJeepFestival.com or call 724-234-2291.