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2017 Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival

2017 Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival

For the last few years Alana and I have made it out to the Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival in one capacity or another. This year was no different and we were happy to rejoin the on-site trail team and assist as a trail guides with both Dirty and Klondike. While Bantam has a lot to offer any type of Jeeper or Jeeping interest, it’s the trails where we have the most fun.

While this likely doesn’t come as much of a surprise to many of you, the reasoning might… Alana and I truly love reliving those moments when new off-roaders are not sure about their Jeep’s (or even their) ability to make it over or through an obstacle. We also LOVE to meet and chat with fellow Jeepers. If you were in line when I was supposed to be doing tire and Jeep checks, this was likely evident as I tended to talk and shoot the breeze far longer than I should have given my task at hand. 😛

We tended to assist beyond our assigned volunteering hours which was fun for us but did mean less pictures than previous years. Still, we did make our way over to the vendor and show-and-shine area mid-Saturday to visit and check out the awesome Jeeps on display.

This is where I spotted a row of flat fenders, each reminiscent of their military heritage and features we still love in today’s Jeep offerings.


These were hardly the only Jeeps to capture our attention and hearts. There were lots of relatively forgotten models on display. Some looked like they were coaxed back to life for the event after years of rest in a barn somewhere, while others had obviously lived more pampered lives.


I spent quite a bit of time eyeing this old FC. There is a big part of me that would love to turn one of these into an overlanding rig but the trouble is I either find one that is in too good of shape for me to feel comfortable modifying it or one that is too far gone to serve as a decent foundation. This one has already found a loving owner that plans to resurrect it to its former glory.


Alana, on the other hand, is lobbying for a J-series project like this J-10. I must admit I think it would work better for lots of reasons, but they seem to be gaining popularity like the Wagoneers and are becoming increasingly difficult to find for fair prices.


Speaking of Waggies…. How about this old “Cherokee” trimmed one that someone seems to already be breathing an overlanding life into?  This trim is where the name “Cherokee” began and, in spite of the fact that many XJ groupies now claim it as being sacrilege on anything else, especially today’s KL based ride, it was the 1974 SJ Wagoneer that wore it first.


It wasn’t all fun and games in the show-and-shine lot… It seems this very nice CJ got into a street fight with a deer somewhere between the Festival and the Friday night Invasion in town. We didn’t get to talk with the owners about it, but is seems they are in decent spirits about the event and hopefully everyone is okay.


As I mentioned early on, most of our time was spent assisting the Rausch Creek team at the on-site trails. This is us staging Sunday morning. Note: Klondike can be camera shy at times and was hiding a bit.  😆


I wouldn’t spend much time behind the wheel on Sunday and put in most of my time spotting/helping by foot on the black trail. I thought this would offer an opportunity to get more pictures, but the “on-foot” part turned out to be more running from spot to spot than I was comfortable doing with the new camera around my neck so it only lasted for one group.

Here is one of Troy, another Ohioan, working over the first batch of small rocks as they entered the trail.


The black trail featured a series of down-hills this year and I was able to catch one of the participants as they made their way down one of the lesser grade hills. This may not seem like much when you look at a picture after the fact, but I can tell you that if feels pretty crazy when you are in the Jeep and looking over the hood at nothing!


Here is another participant and member of that group as they made their way toward some rock piles that were nestled in a muddy valley.


Speaking of rocks in that muddy valley…. even the guide needs a spot every now and then… but it’s all part of the fun right!?!? 😛


I know you are expecting more and, if you compare to all the pictures I took at last year’s event (which you can see HERE), it isn’t much. But, we were vendors last year and were able to sneak away for more pictures than we could this year.

I know this may be a bit of a bummer for you followers, but I must say it was a pretty fun year for us. Unfortunately, this meant little opportunity for picture taking. 🙁




’17 Unlimited Off-Road Show and Expo in Louisville KY

’17 Unlimited Off-Road Show and Expo in Louisville KY

We try to visit the Unlimited Off-Road Expo that is held in Louisville, Kentucky every year. This said, I must admit that the 2016 Expo was so side-by-side centric that we began to wonder if our money and time was worth it. Still, we opted to give it another go and we are glad we did. This year’s expo seemed to have an opposite biasing back toward full sized rigs that suited us wonderfully!

Once you get your wristbands the show begins in a large indoor area where it’s hard not to become overwhelmed by all the vendors and rigs on display. We always try to work a pattern of all rights or all lefts to ensure everything is seen, but this year’s floor layout didn’t play well to that strategy. While we found this a tad annoying, it did force more cross traffic which I’m sure all those who pay to display there appreciate.

We can’t even begin to cover everything there is to do and see there, so instead I’ll just focus on the things that we found interesting. The first of which was these custom cut Maxxis Treps. It’s hard to imagine that the tire, as sold, wasn’t aggressive enough, but apparently the owner was looking for more 😛


The next thing to catch our attention was this immaculate Toyota FJ.


This thing was amazing everywhere you looked and, given the power plant under the hood, I bet it’s just as amazing to drive!  :mrgreen:


Another interesting (non-Jeep) that caught our attention was a new Chevy Colorado ZR2 that was on display.


I’ll admit it was interesting and it sure had pretty shocks….


But the biggest shock of all was the sticker price!  😯  I must admit, that with Jeep introducing the JT (Jeep/JL-Truck) soon and Toyota already having proven vehicles in this market area, I wonder who will jump into this rig and actually use it. I’m not sure GM is even planning for anyone to use it other than as a status symbol since they provided VERY little on the belly when it comes to skid plates and protection.


After being intrigued and then disappointed by the ZR2, we did an “about-face” and were pleasantly greeted to Hauk Designs display. I gotta’ say, their setup is pretty sweet! Whether you look at the vehicles on display, the swag, or the tow rig (that is in and of itself AMAZING), it’s all eye candy.


Once we finally made our way outside to work our way to the outdoor vendors, we found the usual rows of show-and-shine rigs on display. This is where we met a rather enthusiastic Wagoneer owner that made sure we not only saw her ride but outright asked for our vote. Unfortunately, we had already dropped our tickets in other boxes, but it must’ve worked out for her as she ended up winning. 🙂


Finally free from the show-and-shine and across the road, we noticed some rigs we knew from our friends down south! This prompted some messaging to meet up with them.


The outdoor area not only has additional vendors but also the course where small races and events are held throughout the event. We just missed a roll-over on our arrival, but I did grab this quick picture as they began to flop the buggy back over. (Don’t worry about the fire… they got it put out real quick and, once things were known to be safe, fired it up and it pulled itself from the course.)


After that excitement, there was a lull in the action so we visited the vendors. One of which was Maxxis. This tire right here is likely to be what is on Dirty in the very near future. Our MTRs have been absolutely great, but they are tired and we need some new rubber.


The course area is not only used for events the expo puts on but also for participants to either get a ride in a sponsor’s vehicle or test your own on the obstacles. This is always fun to watch, but if you are sensitive to dust…. You’ve been warned it can be quite bad.


On our way back in we spotted a vehicle that not only proved anything is possible, but also that the event truly caters to EVERY type of off-roader and rig.


Once back in, we made a pass by the Ford booth where we made good on a promise to let Kegan have a go in their Raptor Simulator. This was my first attempt at video on the new camera and  I accidentally cut it short when I attempted to take a snap-shot. Oops!  😳


This pretty much wrapped up our visit, or at least our highlights, hopefully you enjoyed this and we will see you there next year!