TOLEDO, Ohio (13abc Action News) - Plans for the 2018 version of Toledo Jeep Fest have hit high gear, and changes being made to the festival are expected to draw even bigger crowds than the first event. A number of private and public community partners have also signed on to help make it all happen.
The biggest change for 2018 is the length of the festival. It's going from just one day to three. That will obviously increase the attendance and the economic impact. Lucas County Commissioner Pete Gerken says the festival is important for businesses big and small,"The first go-round was the biggest event in downtown Toledo since World War II. My friends at Coney Island tell me it was their biggest day for hot dog sales in their 90-year history, and that's just one example of the impact."
The first Toledo Jeep Fest brought about 40,000 people to the city and generated about $3 million in economic activity. Those numbers will likely be a lot bigger next year with the expanded time frame. Cindy Kerr is the Executive Director of Downtown Toledo Improvement District,"Combine the three days of the event, and we could be upwards of 80,000, 100,000 or even up to 150,000 people. We're just not sure yet."
One thing is for sure, there's plenty of interest out there. Jerry Huber is the Chairman of Jeep Fest,"Registration is now open for participants and vendors. You can't imagine all the calls we've been getting saying when can we sign up and where will we be placed. It's exciting to see all the interest."
Those involved with Jeep Fest say the timing of the second event couldn't be better. Jeff Cole is the spokesman for Dana, a company that has been part of the Wrangler from the very beginning,"This is a big year for Jeep with the launch of the new Wrangler model. It's a big year for Dana too since we opened our new facility at Overland Industrial Park. We make axles for the new Jeep at that plant. It's a no-brainer for us to be involved. We have about 2,000 employees in NW Ohio and SE Michigan and many of them are Jeepers. We wanted to be part of it."
Huber says the benefits of the festival will be felt far outside the Jeep community, "The long-term benefit is it gets people into downtown Toledo who might not have been coming here for something else. It's certainly a great way to showcase what's going on here."
Although keeping up with worldwide demand is tough, Kerr says the event might even help sell a few more Wranglers, "As a member of the Jeep Fest committee I think I should have my own Wrangler for 2018. I sure hope my husband hears that!"
All the fun kicks off Friday, August 10th and runs through Sunday, August 12th. The festivities will include a concert Friday night.
The Jeep parade is Saturday and Dave's Running Shop will host a run and walk Sunday.
With about eight months to go, organizers have already raised $150,000. That is half their fundraising goal for the event.
If you'd like to get involved with Toledo Jeep Fest, we've posted links.