by Matt Konkle
Quadratec Channel Editor
The early June sea of Jeeps that normally descend on the Cooper’s Lake Campground in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania won’t be happening this year. No mud pits, World War Two reenactment camps, or Jeep Invasion parade either.
The Friends of the Bantam Jeep Association Monday announced this year’s 10th annual Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival has been canceled after learning Cooper’s Lake is closing for the remainder of 2020 due to COVID-19 repercussions.
“We have been optimistic all along that we would be able to celebrate our 10th anniversary either in June or October,” said FBJA president Todd Wagner in a statement. “We know that thousands of Jeep enthusiasts were looking forward to being at Bantam, and we and the owners of Cooper’s Lake Campground are truly disappointed that the present circumstances will not allow us to hold the Festival as we had hoped.”
The Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival is one of the nation’s largest Jeeps events and annually attracts more than 2,500 Jeeps and 30,000 people to the Cooper’s Lake Campground which is about an hour north of Pittsburgh.
It is normally held the second weekend of June, and the three-day experience involves over 150 Jeep industry vendors, historical exhibits, obstacle course playgrounds, mud pits and trail rides designed to embrace the vehicle's past and the lifestyle it now promotes.
Besides the actual event, Bantam also hosts a huge Jeep parade in nearby Butler, Pa., the original birthplace of Jeep. That parade earned a place with the Guinness World Records for largest Jeep parade in 2015.
Organizers said those who have already registered for the 2020 event will have their spot automatically roll over into the 2021 Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival. Additionally, anyone looking for a refund can request one on the event's site.
Cooper’s Lake Campground will follow the same procedure, organizers said, and assign existing reservations to campsites for 2021. Both the Festival and Cooper’s Lake will reach out to registered customers with further details and instructions to request refunds via email this week.
Despite this year's cancellation, organizers plan on keeping all 10th anniversary celebrations in place for next June’s event, and are also still selling raffle tickets for their 1981 Jeep Scrambler build. That raffle will take place in early October, organizers said.
Wagner also said the FBJA is looking to put something together for Jeep enthusiasts October 2-4.
“We are working on some plans that we hope will turn this frustrating news into a bit of excitement for our Bantam fans,” he said. “We need some time to get things finalized, and we will announce details in the coming weeks.”