For Immediate Release
Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival Achieves Guinness World Record, Raises $20,000 for Bantam Heritage Fund and Announces 2012 Festival Events
BUTLER, Pa. (November 21, 2011) – The Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival has made it into the record books – the Guinness World Records to be exact. Today, Festival organizers announced that Guinness World Records has officially awarded the record for largest parade of Jeeps to the Festival.
“We all know that the Festival was an overwhelming success and brought more people to Butler than any other one-day event in our city’s history,” said Butler Police Chief Timothy Fennell, whose police force was instrumental in organizing the parade of 1,106 jeeps, along with the Rodfathers Car Club and the Butler Township Police Department. “The Jeep owners who participated were excited about their role in an attempt to set a record, and I’m happy to announce that their participation has been made official by Guinness.”
The parade and cruise were one of the highlights of the August event that brought thousands of Jeep enthusiasts to Butler. Parade participants began their record attempt at Butler County Community College and traveled three miles north on Route 8 where they were parked along Butler’s Main Street and side streets to show off their Jeeps to the estimated 35,000 people that filled the streets and sidewalks. The Festival continued throughout the weekend at the Big Butler Fairgrounds where an off-road playground, Bantam history exhibit, Jeep show, WWII encampment and nearly 100 vendors were part of the activities attendees enjoyed.
Festival Raises $20,000 to Preserve Bantam Heritage
The Festival’s goals are to raise funds to put Butler on the worldwide map as the “birthplace of the jeep,” attract overnight visitors to Butler County and preserve the history that remains of the American Bantam Car Company.
Butler County Tourism & Convention Bureau President Jack Cohen announced that Festival proceeds of $20,000 have been deposited into a special fund to preserve Bantam heritage.
Cohen believes that saving the Bantam Building and doing more to celebrate Butler County’s Jeep heritage is key to the County’s heritage tourism efforts. “The enthusiastic response we received from Jeep owners who traveled from 25 states and four countries to Butler this past summer is evidence of the passion people have for Jeeps,” he said. “I believe that Butler has the
ability to become a destination for Jeep enthusiasts year-round if we are committed to preserving our Jeep heritage and offer reasons to keep them coming back.”
2012 Festival Activities Announced
The 2012 Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival will be held August 10-12, and organizers have been meeting since early October to plan the next event. “We received so much great feedback from the people who attended the Festival, and we’ve utilized their comments as part of our planning process,” said Lambert. “Many of the new Festival elements are a direct result of their Facebook posts, survey responses and emails.”
A group of more than 20 volunteers comprise a new Festival Planning Committee that has been charged with making the event even more appealing to Jeep owners. “We are so fortunate to have such a great group of people who are enthusiastic and committed to ensuring the future success of the Festival,” said Lambert. “Planning and executing an event of this magnitude takes a lot of passionate people with diverse talents, and each of our committee members has made significant contributions already.”
Highlights of key activities at the 2012 Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival include:
Jeep Invasion: Up to 1,500 Jeeps will roll into downtown Butler on Friday, August 10. Jeeps will be parked along Main Street, DJs will play music and Downtown businesses and organizations will offer specials and other promotions to welcome Jeep owners back to Butler. The Jeep Invasion will be held between 6 and 10 p.m.
Jeep Playground/Trail Rides: An even bigger and better Playground will provide off-road fun and driving challenges for Jeep owners. The fan-favorite Mud Pit will be back for drivers to conquer. On-site trail rides through the woods will give Jeep owners a taste of “wheeling” and a scenic trail ride at Moraine State Park will show off Butler County’s beauty to participants.
WWII Encampment: Presented by First Frontier Mechanized Cavalry, the encampment was a popular attraction in 2011. The group will return with even more historical military jeeps and authentic uniforms, camping equipment and military gear.
Show ‘n Shine: In 2011, more than 650 Jeeps competed in 15 classes to win a trophy. The activity is expected to grow with even more participating Jeeps.
Ruff ‘n Tuff (NEW): This new element was suggested by Festival attendees. Similar to Show ‘n Shine, Jeeps will compete on Sunday in nine different classes that are more suitable for those who give their Jeep a work out. Some of the classes include Most Tattoos, Best Chick Jeep and Most Mud.
Mystery Road Rally (NEW): Two hundred Jeeps will have the chance to explore Butler County and see some of our attractions and places of interest during a Saturday night scavenger hunt that will take them on 12 different driving routes. The Jeep who finishes closest to the pre-determined finish time and mileage for each route, and who has the most correct answers on the trivia questionnaire, will win a trophy.
Jeep Team Challenge (NEW): Fifty teams will compete in zany challenges that will test their driving, navigation and team work skills. The Saturday evening event will provide great family entertainment as Jeeps drive in reverse, overcome obstacles and attempt to perform some unusual maneuvers. This element will offer great fun for both participants and observers.
The Great Pig Out (NEW): Jeep participants and Festival attendees are invited to enjoy a traditional pig roast and enjoy some old-fashioned family-friendly games. They can also watch the Jeep Team Challenge throughout the evening.
Bantam History Exhibit: The informative exhibit tells the story of how the Jeep was born in Butler. It debuted last year and was a highlight for many attendees who also had the chance to see other Butler-built cars and hear presentations by Jeep historians including Butler’s own Jeep expert, Lee Bortmas.
How-To Clinics: These informative presentations by sponsors and vendors offer everything from off-roading tips to how to repair a dent or install various accessories.
Swap Meet (NEW): People with used Jeep parts to sell are invited to attend the event in hopes that their old parts may be just what another Jeep owner is looking for!
Vendor Displays: Organizers anticipate even more companies will attend the event in 2012 and feature the latest parts, accessories and more.
Whether the Festival will feature a parade in 2012 has been a popular question among 2011 attendees. “Our committee had a lot of discussion about whether we should attempt a parade again, and the majority decided that the parade is something we want to save for another year,” explained Lambert. “This gives us more time to work out the logistical details so an unlimited number of Jeeps can participate and we can beat our Guinness record.”
Details about the event can be found at www.bantamjeepfestival.com. Organizers hope to have participant registration ready for Jeep owners in mid-December.
About the Festival
The Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival is organized by the Butler County Tourism & Convention Bureau and a group of committed volunteers and Jeep enthusiasts who want to create a signature annual event celebrating Butler, Pa.’s role as the birthplace of the jeep. The Festival will take place in Downtown Butler and at the Big Butler Fairgrounds along Route 422, just west of Butler.* The Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival is a premier annual event that attracts Jeep enthusiasts from all over the Mid-Atlantic region.