When you drive a Jeep, you are part of a culture that goes far beyond standard driving. The lifestyle associated with this off-road vehicle is one of the most important aspects of the brand, and it's that commitment to adventure that inspires many drivers to take part in special events like the upcoming O'Daniel Jeep Jam.
About Jeep Jam
Thousands of Jeep drivers and fans will come together as part of this year's Jeep Jam in Fort Wayne, Ind. The first few years of the event, which began in 2005, were dedicated to bringing a few local Jeep owners and enthusiasts together to honor the brand. It has since transformed into a much larger-scale celebration of off-roading and recreational driving.
Over the years, Jeep Jam began teaming up with charities and sponsors, which contributed to the growth of the festival. Eventually, the event outgrew its home at the O'Daniel's Jeep dealership, so it expanded to the nearby Kessie Jeep Farm. A maximum of 300 registered drivers will be allowed to participate in the off-roading at that site, adding a fun and valuable layer to the gathering.
"Jeep Jam wouldn't even be here if it wasn't for Pam and Tom Kessie," Craig Ruskaup, one of the organizers of the event, told The News-Sentinel. "We ran out of [space on] the land we had been using, and the Kessies stepped up and saved Jeep Jam. Their family has done more for J.J. than anyone, and the piece of property is off-road heaven."
At the center of the Jeep Jam are several off-roading courses that allow all guests to take part in the fun. The trails are set up specifically for this event, ensuring that there is plenty of diverse land and quality routes for drivers to enjoy. All driving takes place after a period of check-in and registration, as well as a parade and blessing of the Jeeps, has been completed.
"We get instruction and rules for off-roading, a blessing of the Jeeps and then about five hours of complete fun," Ruskaup told the publication. "... We have trails from mild to wild - the easiest trails to trails that no Jeep will be able to pass."
While the trails are meant to provide fun for all visitors, Ruskaup maintains that there is one hard and fast rule that will decide who can participate.
"It has to be a Jeep product to participate in the off-road portion," he said. "No Rams, only Jeep products."
This year's event
The 2013 Jeep Jam is set to take over Fort Wayne, Ind., during the weekend of Oct. 12. Activities scheduled for this year's event range from the expected, such as off-road driving and a Mopar Car Show, to more low-key pastimes like a corn hole tournament, silent auction and a kids play area. Live music and action-packed races are also scheduled to keep visitors entertained throughout the day.
One of the slated events that should have people talking is the Jeep Obstacle Course. Drivers will be able to test each one of their Jeep mods on the course while also seeing what alterations other owners have done to make their Jeep a more rugged, off-road ready vehicle.
Ultimately, Jeep Jam is about celebrating the culture of off-roading, or even of just owning one of these iconic vehicles.
"Jeep is a way of life, not just transportation," Ruskaup told the news source. "When you own a Jeep, you look for a reason to go for a drive. You volunteer to go to the store. A Jeep is a time machine - it will take you back in time, bringing back your youth."