Toledo Jeep Fest is a Bucket List Event for All Mopar Fans

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Toledo Jeep Fest Parade

Models new and old, military and civilian line up to make Toledo’s Jeep Fest the biggest of its kind.

The Toledo Jeep Fest in Ohio is the biggest city-based event for fans of the Trail Rated brand, with a weekend-long schedule that is highlighted by a parade of vehicles numbering more than 1,600. We spoke with Kevin Cesarz of Thread Group, the PR firm of Spicer/Dana, a key sponsor of the Toledo Jeep Fest. We asked him a series of question that would matter to a Jeep owner who is considering attending the event and the answers should only want everyone reading this to want to go even more than they did already. Of course, he also provided us all sorts of information on the event itself.

Toledo Jeep Fest Details

The 2019 Toledo Jeep Fest will be held from August 9 through 11 in Toledo, Ohio, with the massive event offering local fun for all three days. This is the biggest Jeep city-based event in the world while being the biggest “clean” Jeep event in the world, trailing only off-road events like Jeep Beach and the Easter Jeep Safari.

The Toledo event is centered around a parade and “Park and Shine”, but other aspects of the event include lots of live music, food trucks, a vendor midway, a kids’ area and, of course, the scores of Jeeps parked along the streets of Toledo. There is also a Jeep Exhibit in the Seagate Centre with rare historical models on display and these vehicles, which are not included in the parade, are placed in their display area on Friday to avoid Saturday’s traffic.

Jeep Run

For those coming into town early, Monroe Dodge Jeep Superstore in nearby Monroe, Michigan has the Jeep off-road course on Friday and the Mud Hens, Toledo’s minor league baseball team, is in town for that entire weekend. Finally, the Jeep 4-Mile Run is hosted by Dave’s Running on Sunday.

Other attractions in the area that you can check out independent of the event include the original Willys Overland factory site, the FCA Jeep Wrangler/Gladiator plant, the Dana Driveline facility and the Dana/Spicer world headquarters. Of course, this is all in addition to the restaurants and other businesses in Toledo, all of which are open for the big event.

For the 2018 event, the event capped official vehicle attendance at 1,250 units, but parade officials counted 1,635 vehicles actually lined up for the parade. In other words, almost 400 vehicles just jumped in the parade line without being registered. Those non-registered vehicles were not included in the count, nor did they get a Park and Shine parking spot along the streets. When you factor in spectators who parked their vehicles off of the path and the staged show vehicles that do not participate in the parade, there were likely well over 2,000 Jeeps in Toledo during last year’s event. Similar numbers are expected for 2019.

Jeep Fest Fronts

For tons more pictures, check out the official event Instagram account by clicking here.

Attendee Questions

If you are a Jeep owner within reasonable driving distance of Toledo, Ohio and you are considering making the trek to this event, you likely have some questions about attendance. Fortunately, we have all of the key answers.

Q: Is it open to all Jeep models?
A: Yes, but you will mostly see Wrangler JKs and JLs. You will see a lot of historic Jeeps – Hondos, CJs and of course the classic Willys MB / military jeeps.

Q: Any cost for vehicles to register?
A: Last year $35 per vehicle. Registration opens March 1 – organizers are still noodling on price.

Q: There is mention of awards – what are they for?
A: Sponsor Dana/Spicer gives out awards for best looking jeep, a few other display categories. There is an event in the Seagate Centre on Saturday late afternoon when they do this. After the parade, each entrant gets a display position in the Park and Shine on the downtown Toledo street grid. The award process is Randall Speir and a couple other Dana engineers walking up and down the streets, looking at vehicles, talking to owners and taking notes, then eventually awarding a handful of Jeeps the equivalent of “Best in Show.”

Jeep Parade Side

Q: Who started the event and why?
A: The initial idea was to honor the 75th anniversary of the Jeep being made in Toledo. For the first event in 2016, we weren’t sure how many would attend. It ended up being the largest gathering in downtown Toledo since VE-Day celebrations that ended WWII. Arsenal of Democracy: Between Jeep production in Toledo, Ford Motor Co. bomber production at Willow Run just north of Toledo and tank and half-ton production at GM facilities in Detroit/Warren – this is the where the allies actually won WWII. Spicer and Dana were awarded Army/Navy victory awards for their contribution to the war effort. That’s also why you will see a ton of camo and American flags at Jeep Fest – it’s like a secondary Fourth of July celebration.

You can read plenty more about the history of this event by clicking here.

Jeep Fest Crowd

 Attendee’s Input

Next, we spoke with Vickie Harris, who owns the Wrangler Mountain Edition shown here, which she calls Chewie. She attended the first Toledo Jeep Fest and was happy to share information from her experiences along with providing the pictures in the small gallery below.

Chewie Wrangler

I went to the very first Jeep Fest. It was held in conjunction with the 75th anniversary. The parade was outstanding. We got to see all different kinds of Jeeps from stock to crazy mods. The historical displays at the convention center were great. There were fire trucks, army vehicles, and other historical Jeeps as well as limited editions from years past. There were presentations about the history, people to talk to and lots of information. Inside and outside there were tons of vendors. They were giving away stuff and you could purchase things.

There were food trucks as well as the downtown restaurants, so plenty of choices to eat. Most of the parade Jeeps were on display outside as well. We meet so many people and talked about their upgrades and adventures. Chief complaints were being only one day and I don’t think that they were prepared for the amount of people. I did not get to go last year but looked into it and it seemed to be better planned. I will definitely do it again. It is an awesome experience for any Jeep owner/enthusiast.

Jeeps Stacked Up

I had only bought my very first Jeep about 6 months before this. I saw firsthand why people love them so much and learned a lot.”

Again, the Toledo Jeep Fest is held in early August, so you have plenty of time to plan your trip to beautiful Ohio. For all of the key information on the event, click here to visit the official event website.

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A lifetime automotive expert, diehard Dodge fan, and respected auto journalist for over 10 years, Patrick Rall is highly experienced in the automotive world. He has clocked in time as an auto mechanic, longtime drag racer and now auto journalist who contributes to nearly a dozen popular websites dedicated to fellow enthusiasts.

“Before I was old enough to walk, my dad was taking me to various types of racing events, from local drag racing to the Daytona 500,” says Rall. “He owned a repair shop and had a variety of performance cars when I was young, but by the time I was 16, he was ready to build me my first drag car: a 1983 Dodge Mirada that ran low 12s. I spent 10 years traveling around the country, racing with my dad by my side. While we live in different areas of the country, my dad still drag races at 80 years old in the car that he built when I was 16. Meanwhile, I race other vehicles, including my 2017 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat and my 1972 Dodge Demon 340.

“Although I went to college for accounting, my time in my dad’s shop growing up allowed me the knowledge to spend time working as a mechanic before getting my accounting degree, at which point I worked in the office of a dealership group,” adds Rall. “While I was working in the accounting world, I continued racing and taking pictures of cars at the track. Over time, I began showing off those pictures online and that led to my writing.

“Ten years ago, I left the accounting world to become a full-time automotive writer and I am living proof that if you love what you do, you will never ‘work’ a day in your life. I love covering the automotive industry and everything involved with the job. I was fortunate to turn my love of the automotive world into a hobby that led to an exciting career, with my past of working as a mechanic and as an accountant in the automotive world provides me with a unique perspective of the industry.

“My experience drag racing for more than 20 years coupled with a newfound interest in road racing over the past decade allows me to push performance cars to their limit, while my role as a horse stable manager gives me vast experience towing and hauling with all of the newest trucks on the market today.

“Being based on Detroit, I never miss the North American International Auto Show, the Woodward Dream Cruise and Roadkill Nights, along with spending plenty of time raising hell on Detroit’s Woodward Avenue with the best muscle car crowd in the world.”

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