This week’s 23rd Annual Gateway to the Cumberlands Jeep Jamboree in Williamsburg will be making a bit of history.
Not only will it be the largest Jeep Jamboree in the nation for the third year in a row, but it will also bring with it a record number of participants to town.
“This is the largest in the history of any Jeep Jamboree. We have 262 Jeeps registered right now and 440 people coming in,” said Williamsburg Tourism Director Alvin Sharpe. “The weather has been beautiful but hopefully we will get a little rain by Thursday so they will have a little bit of mud out there. Right now we are the largest we have ever been.”
Sharp said that there are 40-plus Jeeps on a waiting list.
“If we could find some more trails out there on some more land, then this thing would be over 300 Jeeps easily,” he added.
This year there are 15 trails, most of which are located in either southern Whitley County or northern Campbell County, Tennessee.
Jeep Jamboree USA is an organization out of California that conducts jamborees all over the United States.
“You have to have a Jeep to be able to get involved in it. You can’t go out there in just any four-wheel drive. It has to be a Jeep,” Sharpe noted. “Really, basically it is a lot of these people who have Grand Cherokees, Wranglers, and so forth that have probably never had them in four-wheel drive.
“This gives them the opportunity to come here. We have trails from the novice all the way up to the extreme trails for the advanced.”
Sharpe said he isn’t surprised that Williamsburg’s event keeps growing nearly every year.
“We have the perfect environment for it. The leaves are perfect this time of year,” Sharpe said.
He added that Jeep Jamboree Kentucky Coordinator Don Ford and his staff do an excellent job of setting up the trails each year, and the city tries to make all the participants feel welcome.
Sharpe added that there were no negative comments on surveys completed during last year’s Jeep Jamboree.
245 Jeeps took part in last year’s Jeep Jamboree from 29 different states and Canada.
Based on surveys last year, officials estimated that between $115,000 and $120,000 was spent in the local economy by participants.
“That is a pretty good economic impact on a small town of 5,200 people,” Sharpe added.
Sharpe is anticipating an even larger economic impact this year due to the record crowd.
Registration for this year’s Jeep Jamboree will start at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Williamsburg Tourism and Convention Center.
The Jeeps will assemble at the Kentucky Splash Waterpark Friday and Saturday morning and will leave out to hit the trails about 8:45 a.m.
“I’d say the Jeeps will be about a mile long going out of here,” Sharpe estimated.