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Butler Celebrating Jeep’s 75th Year with Another Go at the Guinness World Record

Apr 30, 2015 02:43PM ● Published by Veronica Tucker

The Bantam Jeep is celebrating its milestone 75th birthday and everyone is invited to the party! The Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival, organized by the Butler Country Tourism & Convention Bureau, will take place from June 12–14 in downtown Butler and at Cooper’s Lake Campground near Slippery Rock. 

 “We are celebrating the 75th birthday of the world’s original jeep, the Bantam Jeep,” said Festival Director Patti Jo Lambert, who has been planning and leading this exciting event since 2009. “Our history exhibit will feature rare Jeeps from the 1940s, including a re-creation of the original Bantam Reconnaissance Car, the first Jeep and the only known vehicle of its kind in the world. It will be accompanied by other rare Jeeps, including a Jeep that can swim!”

This event, which is supported by the Butler County Historical Society, Butler Downtown, The Associated Artists of Butler County, Rodfathers and other local organizations, is huge not only for Butler, but for the entire country. At the inaugural Jeep Festival in 2011, more than 1,300 registered participants attended from 25 states. Since then, the number has jumped to nearly 2,000 participants, representing 30 states and Canada. 

What used to be a one-day event has grown as well. “In 2013, the festival grew to three full days and was held on a new date at a new location in order to offer more trails and room for expansion,” said Lambert. And it just keeps growing—last year’s attendance included more than 20,000 spectators. 

And those aren’t the only stats being shattered. “Our Guinness World Record Parade of Jeeps on June 12 will be a highlight this year—we hope to break our original record and expect more than 2,000 Jeeps to join us,” said Lambert. In 2011, the festival earned a Guinness World Record for the longest Jeep parade. This year, the parade will take place on Friday afternoon and evening, and will be led by one Jeep representing each year from 1940 to 2015. The event will end with the popular Jeep Invasion Street Party.

A wealth of entertainment is available for Jeep lovers of all types and ages. Festival-goers can examine Jeeps on display, meet vendors, watch Jeeps tackle the mud pit, and study the history of the Jeep in the WWII Encampment and in the Jeep History Exhibit. There’s even a Little Jeepers playground for kids. Runners can sign up for the Bantam Jeep Muddy 5K Race as well, which will take place on June 14; the race features obstacles including tires, cargo nets, steep hills, wooded trails and lots of mud! 

Owning a Jeep is not a requirement to attend this annual extravaganza; the event is open to everyone. “I love seeing how excited all of the people are to be at the festival,” said Lambert. “They have so much fun, and it’s something that they look forward to all year long. 

“It’s gratifying to play a role in creating something that will provide a lifetime of memories for many families,” she added. “So come add to the celebration and welcome the Jeeps home as they return to their birthplace!”

To learn more about the event or register to volunteer, visit www.bantamjeepfestival.com.


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