The sight had to be impressive for anyone driving on Teaster Lane past the LeConte Center in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee last Friday or Saturday. Well, not just for those driving, really, but for everyone. Walkers, bikers, skateboarders. Everyone.
That's because greeting all those passers-by at the center was an entirely full parking area of Jeep vehicles. Thousands and thousands crammed into every spot, hill embankment, grass island, or everywhere else humanly possible. And all for one reason.
The seventh-annual Great Smoky Mountain Jeep Invasion.
This year's version, held August 23 and 24, promised to be bigger and better than any other in the event's history, and it certainly did not disappoint. More than 20,000 people roamed the show floor each day, with over 10,000 Jeeps in attendance—both show records. In fact, so many vehicles blotted out the asphalt that the center's tram system got quite a workout ferrying visitors from the lot's far edges to the show.
It wasn't all JLs or JKs either. Almost every type of Jeep, many sporting all different types of modifications, turned out. From the early days of the Willys series, all the way up to Jeep's current Gladiator truck. Some sported license plates from as far away as Maine, Arizona, Utah and even a few from California.
Quadratec once again helped sponsor the Smoky Mountain Jeep Invasion and deployed its green and white tent, and 2019 JL Wrangler, to greet the throngs on both show days. The company gave away thousands of pens, magnets, catalogs, key chains and winch hook pull straps throughout the event, while also bringing down some select products for sale. Quadratec shirts, along with hats, Grizzly Grip Cups, Mopar Torx sets, sport handles and steering wheel covers all proved popular and were quickly swiped up. Additionally, all show attendees received a ticket good for 10 percent off their next product purchase.
Besides Quadratec, many other familiar manufacturers were in attendance, including Bestop, Rough Country, Spiderwebshade, Rugged Ridge (the event's title sponsor), Bushwacker, Fab Fours, Warn, Alpine, Mickey Thompson, Pypes Performance, Synergy, Teraflex, Superchips, Superlift, Steersmarts, Skyjacker, Rock Slide Engineering, Rock Krawler, Rigid Lighting, RIPP Superchargers, Painless Performance, Ox Lockers, Oracle Lighting, Maxxis, KMC Wheels, Hi-Lift, JKS, Aerolidz, Bartact, Aries, AEV, as well as a host of others.
While many came to see what deals they could find from show vendors, others brought their pride-and-joy Jeeps to participate in a Show-and-Shine contest that had five different categories—including a full-size Jeep class that was won by Mike Watson, from Forest, Virginia with his 1979 Cherokee Wide-Track. Some even took to walking the parking lot to check out the various types of Jeeps, and what owners had done to them.
For those looking for some instruction, the Southern Four Wheel Drive Association offered off-road education and environmental workshops on both show days, while Lady Jeepers held off-road driving educational classes as well.
In fact, the only drawback for the entire two days was some heavy rain that moved through the area before, and sometimes during, the show. This forced event organizers to scrap plans to offer a trail ride experience in a loop over private property land around the show.
The Smoky Mountain Jeep Invasion helps sponsor the Smoky Mountain Service Dogs, which is a non-profit organization that enhances the physical and psychological quality of life for wounded Veterans by providing custom trained mobility assistance service dogs—at no cost to the Veteran.
The Great Smoky Mountain Jeep Invasion began in 2012, and is currently hosted by the Great Smoky Mountain Jeep Club of Maryville, Tennessee. After the inaugural event in nearby Townsend, Tennessee, it moved to its current location in Pigeon Forge. It is open to all Jeep enthusiasts and clubs throughout the country. For 2020, the show dates are August 21-22.
Quadratec Channel Editor