Spectators watch for free ~~ Fireworks show added Friday night
The yearly offroad festival centered in Marble Hill will mark its 10th anniversary event, expecting one of the largest crowds between Thursday’s night ride through Sunday, September 5th’s finale.
Pre-registration for Sheriff’s JeepFest closed with 1,317 registered Jeepers, a number consistent with previous years. In 2019, the 9th annual JeepFest drew 2,340 registered Jeep owners and thousands of spectators, who can enjoy watching for free.
Sheriff Donnie Craig said Monday he expects it will be a little larger this year. Heavy rain early this week is hampering preparation and also creating a little uncertainty. “We’ve still got a little, final work to do,” Craig said. “We’ll just have to see what this weather does.”
JeepFest will follow much the same plan as in years past. It opens with a night ride on Thursday, which can create backups on some area roads. Unfortunately, the route will not be fully-decided until organizers see how much rain falls Tuesday and Wednesday. The night ride is on an easy route, but if the rains leave trails particularly slick or rutted, an alternate route may be used.
For anyone who wants to pick up their registration packet or buy JeepFest shirts or hats, they will be available at the Homebase in Marble Hill starting Thursday at 3 p.m. There is also a Wednesday night kickoff at Rocco’s sponsored by the JeepHut.
Friday through Sunday will see the festival in full swing with large crowds expected at the Homebase on Highway 53 in Marble Hill. Trails being used this year include the usual spots on Grandview and Fortner roads, Dragon Drive and Rocky Ridge Road trails will be used for a second time; a new spot has been added off Carlan Road, across from the fire station there.
Entrance and parking are free at the Homebase for spectating at the obstacle course/mudpit or shopping the vendor area. Registration stickers are required to enter all trail areas.
Friday night will have the JeepFest Show-n-Shine at 6 p.m. in downtown Jasper with a free concert by local favorite Jacob Bryant at 7 p.m. and new this year, a fireworks show at 10 p.m. set off from the Jasper City Park and viewable throughout downtown. Watch for closed roads and detours throughout downtown Friday afternoon. Pioneer Road near the park will be closed very briefly during the fireworks show.
Craig thanked the Tutton Group, new owners of Jasper Jeep, now Tutton Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram, for sponsoring the fireworks to mark the 10th anniversary of the event.
Organizers remind local drivers to look for alternate routes around Highway 53 through Marble Hill Friday through Sunday. Cove Road makes a good bypass.
Sheriff Craig thanked the community and volunteers who make this important fundraiser for non-profit groups throughout the area successful ever year. Over the past 10 years, more than $700,000 has been returned to the community’s non-profits from this event. With all the prep-work which started weeks ago, set up and people who work the different trail locations during the weekend, Craig said he couldn’t estimate how many volunteers contribute, but noted there are a lot.
“I really want to thank all the volunteers and the community,” the sheriff said. “This would not be possible without them. Working together is what makes this possible.”