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Jeep Fest smashes fund-raising goal

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    Steve Stachowiak, Toledo, sits atop his 2000 Wrangler Sarhara before a parade down N. Huron Street for Jeep Fest in Toledo, Saturday, August 13, 2016.

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    Map for Toledo Jeep Fest 2018

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With the second running of the Toledo Jeep Fest less than three months away, organizers say they’ve raised twice as much money as they had originally targeted — a clear sign that the event has generated a buzz within the off-road community.

“The response locally and nationally has been incredible,” said Kevin Mullan, director of partnership development for Toledo Jeep Fest.

A $110,000 donation — primarily of in-kind support — from Buckeye Broadband, The Blade, and Telesystem that was presented on Tuesday pushed the total fundraising effort beyond $600,000.

n4Jeepparking-jpg

Map for Toledo Jeep Fest 2018

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“We are well on pace for a tremendous festival,” Mr. Mullan said, noting that a number of nationally known brands have shown serious interest in signing on as partners.

“Our goal at this point was to be at about $300,000 cash and in-kind,” Mr. Mullan said. “We’re up over $600,000 cash and in-kind where we sit today. The reality is putting this festival on in an open field at the Lucas County Fairgrounds or the airport would be a lot cheaper. Doing it in the downtown setting is expensive.”

But organizers say that urban experience is a key component of what sets Toledo Jeep Fest apart from the country’s other large Jeep-centric events.

Whereas other festivals tend to be held in more rural settings away from entertainment, dining, and hotel options, Toledo’s is right in the heart of the city’s increasingly revitalized core.

“It’s a real opportunity for everyone to see what’s going on in Toledo. Clearly Jeep Fest is about Jeep, but it’s also about Toledo, the community, and the people that make this the city that it is,” said Jerry Huber, chairman of the Toledo Jeep Fest Steering Committee.

When the inaugural Toledo Jeep Fest rolled into town in 2016, a good portion of Toledo’s riverfront was under construction. With ProMedica’s new headquarters now complete and a renovated Promenade Park ready to host visitors, the festival is poised to make good use of the space along Summit Street. The parade route has been shifted from the short, straight jaunt down Huron Street in 2016 to a longer route down Summit and Jackson streets. Tentatively, the route will start at Lafayette Street.

“It made sense to move this over here where it’s all happening. As much as all these out-of-towners were impressed with what we did over on Huron Street, I’ve got a feeling they’re going to be blown away with the beautiful job we’ve done with our riverfront here in Toledo,” said Bruce Baumhower, president of United Auto Workers Local 12.

The footprint of the festival will also expand to encompass nearly all of downtown between Huron Street to the west, Summit Street to the east, Lafayette Street to the south and Jackson Street to the north. That will loop in most of downtown’s major attraction points, including Hensville, Levis Square, Promenade Park and the SeaGate Convention Centre.

In 2016, more than 1,000 Jeeps and 40,000 people attended the single-day event. Organizers said Tuesday they’ve signed up 500 Jeeps for the parade so far and anticipate the total number vehicles to be in the range of 1,200 to 1,500 by the time the festival rolls around. They’re also planning for more vendors, food trucks, and family entertainment options.

The festival will be held Aug. 10-12. 

Contact Tyrel Linkhorn at tlinkhorn@theblade.com419-724-6134, or on Twitter @TyrelLinkhorn.

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