The Toledo Jeep Fest will live on.
Organizers of last year’s wildly successful event have confirmed that the celebration of all things Jeep will go on hiatus in 2017, but return with a multiday program next August.
“We heard from the public. They wanted to have another Toledo Jeep Fest,” said event spokesman Whitney Rofkar.
Organizers plan to replicate last year’s Jeep-only car show and parade, though they expect to add more vendors and other new features.
Notably, that could include some sort of off-road exhibition, something many Jeep enthusiasts had clamored for.
“We had frankly a ton of suggestions,” said Jerry Huber, chairman of the Toledo Jeep Fest Steering Committee. “Certainly some type of off-road demonstration area is one of the things that we’re looking at.”
Cost and liability make that challenging, but organizers are examining the possibility.
“There will be more interactive elements no matter what. If we can’t do a whole off-road course because it’s too prohibitive cost-wise or otherwise, there will still be more interactive Jeep-like things that we can pull off now that we have a year to plan,” Ms. Rofkar said.
Thrown together by a mostly volunteer crew in just four months, last year’s one-day event far surpassed expectations. What was seen as a mostly local celebration of Jeep’s 75th anniversary ended up drawing more than 1,100 Jeeps and 40,000 people from 14 states and Canada.
The event drew also created a significant buzz on social media. The hashtag #ToledoJeepFest was trending nationally on Twitter the day of the event and the day after.
While last year had the backdrop of a big anniversary, next year’s event will come soon after the next-generation Jeep Wrangler has gone on sale and not too long before Jeep launches a pickup truck. Both of those vehicles will be built in Toledo.
“I think the focus for next year’s [event] is not just the past, but it’s past present and future,” said Mr. Huber, a retired Chrysler executive. “You've seen already the tremendous amount of enthusiasm and excitement and mystery that’s surrounding this new ... Wrangler that’s coming out. Shortly after that they'll be looking to bring the truck.”
Jeep officials have previously said the truck would go into production in 2019.
The Toledo Jeep Fest announcement — officially to take place Thursday morning at a downtown news conference — comes after months of discussions with Jeep parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to get a sign off on trademark usage and a promise of support, as well as talks with potential sponsors.
For a three-day event, organizers believe they will need to raise $300,000, a significant increase from last year’s $190,000. The committee is bringing in an outside fund-raising professional to help.
Though no official sponsorship commitments have yet been made, organizers are hopeful they will have two title sponsors before the end of the month and would like to have three-quarters of the money committed before the end of the year.
Mr. Huber said having a successful event in the books should help with both fund-raising and drawing in vendors. Some people were hesitant to sign on to a first-time, single-day event last year. That shouldn’t be a problem when planning for 2018.
Like last year, the event will be centered in downtown Toledo. That differentiates the Toledo Jeep Fest from several other large Jeep-focused events around the country and should give Toledo a prime chance to show off its changing downtown.
“While it presents some challenges, we think for the business community it presents some huge opportunities,” Mr. Huber said.
Destination Toledo, the area’s hotel and convention bureau, estimated last year’s one-day event generated between $2.7 million and $3.4 million in economic activity.
The Toledo Jeep Fest Steering Committee is also launching a new website Thursday, www.ToledoJeepFest.com. The event is scheduled for Aug. 10 through Aug. 12, 2018.
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