All events free to spectators
Jeep Hut employee Will Knox tests one of the many obstacles at the JeepFest course Tuesday. The town is expected to be buzzing this weekend, with forecasters predicting good weather for the event.
Organizers for the Sheriff’s JeepFest expect 1,000 Jeep owners will register for this year’s event, more than doubling the number last year and bringing several thousand people into the area September 5 -8.
This is the third annual event, though year one was a simple one-day ride, and the event has grown considerably, reaching Jeep owners from all across the eastern half of the country.
Entrants from as far away as Iowa have registered and a large group from Washington D.C. is planning to caravan here. Kris Stancil, who is helping organize the event, said they are being told there is no other event like this for Jeep owners in the eastern United States. All hotels in the county and many in surrounding counties are already booked-up.
Last year the obstacles and trail rides drew 422 Jeeps and positive reviews from drivers, riders and spectators. More than 500 Jeeps are already registered for this year.
Sheriff Donnie Craig said the fundraising event for the Ga. Sheriff Youth Homes, the local Sheriff’s Foundation and the Joy House, will likely generate more than $75,000 from entry fees and vendor sponsorships.
Nothing will be charged to members of the community who want to come watch the crawling events with obstacles set up in the field between Ingles and the Post Office. Look for the entrance off of Highway 53.
In a test run for the Progress, the obstacles were shown to be challenging, to say the least, and extremely exciting/entertaining to watch drivers try to negotiate the man-made steep pitches of rock and old concrete.
“I want to welcome the community,” Sheriff Craig said. “There are no gate fees. No fees to come hear the music (scheduled for Friday and Saturday nights of the event). We want local people to come out and enjoy it.”
Craig notes that the event draws a large number of people from outside this area and should be a benefit to local businesses. “This will really bring a lot of people to the community,” he said.
Hans Rueffert of the Woodbridge Inn said they had booked solid with Jeep owners several months ago and anticipate a big weekend at the restaurant.
Two last-minute changes from the program already printed for the event are the addition of a Thursday night trail ride leaving from the Home Base area and a change in the trails.
A new easy trail, the only one classified as easy, has been cleared and opened off of Hill City Road; this replaces the easy one previously posted at Moto-Mountain, though there will still be moderate trails to ride at Moto-Mountain.
Craig said they have gone out of their way to plan for the large crowds. The only time/place he anticipates any particular trouble would be the Sunday Jeep cruise over Burnt Mountain and returning to the Joy House on Cove Road. Craig said a lot of people are expected in the ride and that may create some traffic issues on Burnt Mountain Sunday.