Once again, Williamsburg will be hosting the largest Jeep Jamboree in the nation with more than 265 Jeeps and 460 people pouring into town later this week for the 26th Annual Gateway to the Cumberlands Jeep Jamboree.
“I know for the last five years we have been the largest,” noted Williamsburg Tourism Director Alvin Sharpe. “We are looking forward to this one. It seems like on Facebook, everyone is excited about it. We have prepared about every way in the world to take care of just about any kind of problem,” Sharpe noted.
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.
Jeep Jamboree is traditionally the biggest tourism event in Williamsburg each year. Sharpe said the average economic impact is usually about $120,000 being pumped into the local economy through things, such as hotel room rentals, food and drink purchases, and fuel fill-ups to name just a few.
“That means a lot to the businesses and so forth. They spend money,” he added. “It is something that is a very positive thing for our community financially and otherwise.”
Participants will roll their Jeeps into Williamsburg Thursday to register and get their vehicles inspected. There is a welcome barbeque planned Thursday evening for participants and organizers with Sonny’s BBQ in Corbin providing the food. Local bluegrass artists will provide entertainment during the dinner.
On Friday and Saturday morning, participants will meet up in the parking lot of the Kentucky Splash Waterpark for a driver’s meeting, and then will leave out in groups shortly before 9 a.m. in route to 19 off-road trails mostly in southern Whitley County, and northern Campbell County, Tennessee.
Oral Lewis with Brashear’s Market and Catering will provide the dinners Friday and Saturday evening.
Millys on Main will provide sack lunches for participants Friday and Saturday.
The event also serves as a local fundraiser for local charities, churches, sporting teams and so forth.
Immanuel Baptist Church’s Williamsburg campus and the University of the Cumberlands Women’s Softball Team will be providing Jeep washes on Friday and Saturday evenings.
Sharpe added that part of the reason the event is so successful is due to Gateway to the Cumberlands Jeep Jamboree Coordinator Don Ford and his wife, Sue, all the local volunteers and trail guides, and the land owners, who allow the use of their property for the event.
“If it wasn’t for the land owners out there, we wouldn’t be able to do that here. They have been very cooperative,” Sharpe added.
“On Facebook, all the comments (by participants) have been very positive about Williamsburg and the hospitality, the way we treat everybody.”
Jeep Jamboree USA off-road treks have a long-standing tradition dating back to 1953 when 4×4 pioneer Mark A. Smith organized the first-ever Jeep Jamboree and voyaged across the Sierra Nevada Mountains by way of the old Rubicon Trail.
In 1954, Willys Motors (original manufacturer of Jeep vehicles) created Jeep Jamborees and paved the way for the off-road tradition ever since.
Statistics show that 92 percent of all Jeep Jamboree participants attend with a Jeep Wrangler, and the majority of Jeep Wranglers in attendance are modified with bigger tires, aftermarket bumpers, winches, etc.