The first ever West Virginia JeepFest (from Putnam Review)

(March 21, 2018) The inaugural West Virginia JeepFest is scheduled for Friday, May 4, through Sunday, May 6, at Eleanor Town Park (the Putnam County Fairgrounds) in Eleanor.

Eleanor JEEPFest founder and co-chairman Michael P. May of Eleanor explained last week how the first-time festival idea originated.

“I was at the Putnam County Fair in 2017 at the Mud Runs — I take care of all that property there and work at the park grounds,” he said. “We were sitting there with my boss and were watching a couple of Jeeps in the Mud Run. I have a Jeep, [JEEPFest co-chairman] Rich [Pullin] has a Jeep and a lot of our friends have them. We were looking for a place to go to do something like that.

“A friend of mine had his Jeep in the Mud Run, and it’s like a spark went off in my head. I looked at my boss — who’s the mayor of Eleanor — Fred Halstead and said, ‘Man, I’d like to have an event like this.’”

May said the mayor was skeptical initially about his proposal, so May suggested to Halstead, “The next time you’re driving down the road, count the Jeeps going down the road. Not the Cherokees and Libertys — the Wranglers. After doing that for a couple of days, he said, ‘That’s a lot of Jeeps.’”

Following the mayor’s OK, a small committee was formed to explore the idea of a JEEPFest. May recruited his friend and fellow Eleanor Volunteer Fire Department member Pullin to help chair the effort. “Rich is the fire administrator for the county,” May said, “but he used to work as an IT person in the school system. I knew he was good with working the Internet and marketing. We got a game plan together.”

Along with providing a Jeep-centric weekend of attractions and entertainment for the public, the organizers envision the JEEPFest as a way to raise civic funds.

“I thought this would be a great money maker for Eleanor Parks and Recreation,” May said. “We could make the parks system some money to make upgrades, through getting sponsors rather than having the Town of Eleanor pay for it.”

The weekend of what is hoped to become an annual event will start on Friday evening with a Jeep Show & Shine, along with vendors, food and music.

“We can accommodate probably 100 vendors,” May said.

Saturday will feature a full day of obstacle course runs, trail rides, vendors and food, concluding with a bonfire in the evening.

Sunday’s event will include more obstacle course runs and trail rides.

May said the mayor was skeptical initially about his proposal, so May suggested to Halstead, “The next time you’re driving down the road, count the Jeeps going down the road. Not the Cherokees and Libertys — the Wranglers. After doing that for a couple of days, he said, ‘That’s a lot of Jeeps.’”

Following the mayor’s OK, a small committee was formed to explore the idea of a JEEPFest. May recruited his friend and fellow Eleanor Volunteer Fire Department member Pullin to help chair the effort. “Rich is the fire administrator for the county,” May said, “but he used to work as an IT person in the school system. I knew he was good with working the Internet and marketing. We got a game plan together.”

Along with providing a Jeep-centric weekend of attractions and entertainment for the public, the organizers envision the JEEPFest as a way to raise civic funds.

“I thought this would be a great money maker for Eleanor Parks and Recreation,” May said. “We could make the parks system some money to make upgrades, through getting sponsors rather than having the Town of Eleanor pay for it.”

The weekend of what is hoped to become an annual event will start on Friday evening with a Jeep Show & Shine, along with vendors, food and music.

“We can accommodate probably 100 vendors,” May said.

Saturday will feature a full day of obstacle course runs, trail rides, vendors and food, concluding with a bonfire in the evening.

Sunday’s event will include more obstacle course runs and trail rides.

There will be a Kids’ Zone with activities for children 12 and younger, who will be admitted free to the JEEPFest when accompanied by a paying adult.

“We talked to a lot of people with Jeeps who have no other events like this to attend,” Pullin said. “They have them in Ohio, Tennessee, Pennsylvania and Virginia. There’s not a festival intended for Jeepers here, but there are in surrounding states.

“We’re hoping for a great turnout. It’s a great way for all these Jeeps to come out. We’ll have local bands and make it a weekend get-together, all family friendly, with no alcohol. We’re working to get battery-powered, miniature Jeeps for the Kids’ Zone obstacle course,” Pullin said.

Camping spots are available for the weekend, as well.

“We’re working with the West Virginia Jeep Club. Richard and I are both members of the club, in fact, and I can’t see doing this without these guys. They’ve been very supportive and instrumental on how to do this,” May said.

Pullin added that members of the Ohio Jeep Club have already expressed in attending the Eleanor JEEPFest.

For additional information and event updates or to register for events, sponsorships or vendor spaces, go online to eleanorjeepfest.com or the Eleanor JEEPFest’s Facebook page.

Leave a Comment