Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival Announces New Activities for 9th Annual Event on June 7-9, 2019

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The Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival is getting geared up for the ninth annual event that takes place in Butler County, Pa., the birthplace of the Jeep, June 7-9, 2019.   The Festival continues to be one of the largest Jeep-only events in the United States thanks to enthusiastic Jeep owners, off-road industry companies and dedicated volunteers who plan and execute the event each year.  The Friends of the Bantam Jeep Association, a volunteer group comprised of loyal Bantam fans, has spent months creating an even larger schedule of Jeep events and activities than ever before.

New in 2019

Expanded On-Site TrailsThe on-site trails are one of the Festival’s most popular activities.  Now participants will have the chance to go off-road on longer trail rides. Two “blue” trails for modified Jeeps will double in length, offering even more off-road fun for attendees with Jeeps capable of traversing more challenging terrain. In addition, the “black” or “extreme” trail will be enhanced with a rock climb for Jeepers who want to test their Jeep’s ruggedness even more.

Enhanced Jeep Playground Obstacle Course: More obstacles will be added in 2019 so Jeep owners can test their driving skills in new ways. A more challenging rock crawl, new dirt features and stair climbs will complement the existing mud pit, a crowd-favorite.

Bantam Rough Riders Trail Ride: This new off-site trail will give all Jeepers a fun experience.  The trail will accommodate all Jeeps fitted with quality all-terrain tires and tow hooks. The trail will offer a variety of experiences for novice drivers as well as those who enjoy driving through various elevation changes and muddy conditions.  Bypasses will enable Jeep owners to avoid any sections of the trail that may have more challenging conditions than desired.

State Park Scenic Tour: Historic sites at Moraine State Park and Jennings Environmental Education Center will showcase Butler County’s state parks to Festival goers. The tour is an on-road experience for all Jeeps and includes stops and informative talks at three different locations within the parks.

Bantam Poker RunNow Jeep owners can play poker Bantam style! Participants will visit 6 different locations outside of the Festival grounds and one location within the grounds.  This activity gives Jeepers the chance to explore the scenic rolling hills of the area and potentially win prizes for the best and worst poker hand.

Bantam Barbee Jeep Race:  Ride-on Jeeps are not just for kids! This new Saturday evening activity at Cooper’s Lake Campground is sure to add some hilarious excitement to Bantam! Those who pre-register to bring ride-on Jeeps that meet all rules and requirements can race other riders down the hill in a slalom-style course. Multiple heats will enable participants to advance to the final race for a cash prize.  A Loser’s Dash for Cash race will give all previously disqualified participants one last shot at some prize cash too.  The activity is free for all spectators to watch.

Bantam Festival of Lights: Lights are one of the most popular Jeep accessories. Now Jeep owners will have a chance to show off their light packages on Saturday night at Cooper’s Lake Campground and win prizes for the “Most Colorful” and “Best Use of Lights”.  The activity is free for spectators who want to see the night sky lit up by bright, colorful lights.

“Our participants asked for even more off-road trails, new activities they could do with their Jeep and fun things to do at Cooper’s Lake on Saturday night,” said Patti Jo Lambert, Festival director. “Their feedback inspired our Planning Committee to create all of the new activities and obtain additional trail riding opportunities so Bantam continues to be one of the top Jeep events in the nation.”

Festival Hours Extended

New in 2019, the Festival will change some operating hours to give participants and volunteers more time to check out the latest parts and accessories offered by vendors from all over the United States and to see other Festival attractions.  While hours for registered Jeep owners to participate in activities with their Jeep will remain the same (starting at 9 a.m. each day and ending at 4, 6 and 3 p.m. Friday through Sunday respectively), the vendors and attractions such as the Jeep History Exhibit, Merchandise and Raffle booths, Ride with a Guide, WWII Encampment and others will open at 10 a.m. each day.  On Saturday, they will remain open an extra hour until 7 p.m. and on Sunday they will remain open two extra hours until 5 p.m. (except for the History Exhibit and WWII Encampment which will close at 3).

“We plan to launch registration for the 2019 Festival in mid-January, and we are anxious to keep building excitement as Jeep owners from all over the country plan their trips to Bantam over the next six months,” said Lambert.  “We can’t wait to see the thousands of Jeeps return home to Butler in June.”

22 Butler County Non-Profit Organizations Receive $27,200 from Friends of the Bantam Jeep Association

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The Friends of the Bantam Jeep Association (FBJA) is continuing its tradition to support Butler County’s non-profit organizations. Twenty-two groups were selected to receive a financial gift ranging from $500 to $2,200 to help them provide services in Butler County. This is the third consecutive year that FBJA, owners of the Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival, has given back to the community. 

“Part of our organization’s mission is to support charitable contributions to other local non-profit organizations in the community,” said Todd Wagner, president. “Since 2016, we have given $77,200 in gifts to a wide-variety of non-profit groups.  We are proud to make these donations on behalf of the hundreds of volunteers who contribute many hours of their time so the Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival can be successful.”

The Association’s board of directions selected these 22 organizations from more than 60 applicants:

·         Associated Artists of Butler County

·         Butler Breast Cancer and Women's Cancer Support Group

·         Butler County American Legion Riders

·         Butler County Symphony Association

·         Butler County Veterans In Need Fund

·         Butler Meals on Wheels, Inc.

·         Community Health Clinic of Butler County

·         Evans City Library

·         Evans City Lions Club 

·         Historic Harmony

·         Life Choices, Inc.

·         Lizzy's Bikes

·         Moraine Preservation Fund

·         NAMI Butler County PA

·         Parents In Toto Autism Resource Center

·         Post 474 American Legion Auxiliary

·         Robin's Home

·         Taz & Penny's Happy Tails Rescue

·         Trail Pittsburgh

·         Zelienople Area Public Library

·         Zelienople Historical Society

·         VA Butler Healthcare (Homeless Veterans Program)

Omix-ADA, the words largest independent Jeep parts manufacturer and a premier Festival sponsor, provided the donation for the VA Butler Healthcare’s Homeless Veterans Program by selling merchandise at its booth during the Festival. The Friends of the Bantam Jeep Association also contributed $1,700 to K9s for Warriors, a national organization that trains and provides service dogs for veterans. The funds came from the entry fee for the Festival’s Bantam Proving Grounds Jeep Pull that was introduced in 2018. 

The Association has already provided more than $20,000 to other local organizations that helped execute the 2018 Festival. Over the past three years, $58,000 was paid to organizations for their assistance during the three days of the event.  Those 2018 organizations include: 377th Engineer Company/Butler Reserve Unit; Alliance for Non-Profit Resources; Butler American Legion Riders; Butler Masonic Lodge #272; Butler Outdoor Club; Butler County Humane Society; CB Rangers; Civil Air Patrol; Compeer Corps; East Coast Four-Wheel Drive Association; Heritage Region Jeep Alliance; Moraine, McConnells Mill and Jennings Commission; Ohio Valley Jeep Alliance; Rodfathers of Butler; Saxonburg Fire Department, Slippery Rock Fire Department (Butler County); and Slippery Rock Fire Department (Lawrence County).

“The Festival already makes a huge impact in Butler County each June, and we are happy that we can make a difference for even more people who live in the birthplace of the Jeep,” said Wagner.

The Friends of the Bantam Jeep Association was formed in October 2015.  It is comprised of more than 50 volunteers who work together to plan and execute the successful Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival which attracts more than 2,000 Jeeps to Butler County each June to celebrate Butler’s notoriety as the birthplace of the Jeep.  The 2019 Festival will be held June 7-9.  Those who wish to get involved in the event can email Info@Bantam.org or call 724-256-4050.