Jeeps to hit AOAA trails this week
SHAMOKIN - Jeep Jamboree USA returns this week to the Shamokin area for the first of two trail rides at Northumberland County's Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area.
While the trail rides are scheduled for Friday and Saturday, the Jeeps will be on public display Thursday for a kickoff registration event at the city's Claude Kehler Community Park.
A portion of West Arch Street at the park will be closed to traffic, allowing an estimated 60 Jeeps to be parked during the inspection and registration process.
The public is encouraged to walk through the Kehler park area between 4 and 7 p.m. for the block party-like event, where they'll get a look at the Jeeps.
Members of Forest Hill Fire Company will grill and sell hamburgers and hot dogs, and Fisher's Boston Pierogies will be selling its signature product.
Local band RATL will perform throughout the event.
The Brush Valley Regional Chamber of Commerce will hand out maps to Jeep riders, letting them know of what the area has to offer.
Josh Notestine of the local pierogie company said most everyone knows what a pierogie is. His company's are unique, he said, and he hopes the event will provide further exposure for Fisher's Boston Pierogies.
"There are a lot of things on the brink of turning on the Lower Anthracite track and we want to be associated with that," Notestine said Sunday.
Jeep Jamboree USA is a partner of the famed Jeep manufacturing company. It's based in California but attracts Jeep enthusiasts nationwide. Group members made their first visit to the 6,500-acre AOAA last year, bringing with them 81 Jeeps and 210 participants and guides.
The local ride was a popular one among JJUSA members, and the first scheduled ride at AOAA in 2013, the Coal Mountain Jeep Jamboree planned for Aug. 1-3, attracted 90 Jeeps, marking it as a sell-out in less than one hour.
While this weekend's Pirate Coal Mountain Jeep Jamboree didn't sell out, it attracted an estimated 60 Jeeps and at least 100 people
There are more than 30 JJUSA trail rides planned in 21 states this summer.
Deb Yeager, branch manager of Susquehanna Bank on Independence Street, helped city officials organize the registration event. She called it a "soft opening" that will serve as a gauge of what's to come with the larger event in August.
Since the registration event is on a Thursday, it proved difficult to recruit nonprofit organizations to set up booths at the Kehler park. She figures to target more businesses for the August event.
A mass email sent by the chamber to local businesses asking if they wanted to advertise their wares and specials for this weekend's Jamboree went without a response, she said, but that didn't discourage her.
"I have a lot of ideas for August. I think we can do a lot more," Yeager said. "For a soft opening, you don't want to go overboard."
Yeager and Steve Bartos, city clerk, believe the events will provide unique opportunities to local businesses to capitalize on the JJUSA visits.
"I think that's a good part of this whole idea of doing things down in Shamokin. ... The vendor gets to promote a product outside the area," Bartos said.