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JeepFest—a Labor [Day Weekend] of love for kids

BY BARBARA SCHNEIDER
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PHOTOS BY JIM FRANCIS

JF1The Pickens County Sheriff’s Office JeepFest is a spectacular event, drawing Jeeps and their owners from all over the country to Jasper for Labor Day Weekend. This year 2,340 Jeeps registered for the Sheriff’s Foundation’s annual event plus several hundred additional Jeeps—along with their owners, families and friends—who came to watch the show, said Kris Stancil, who handles Community Relations for the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office, in a phone interview with Smoke Signals.

In 2011, when Pickens County Sheriff Donnie Craig wanted to raise money for the Georgia Sheriff’s Youth Homes, he started with a Jeep ride which involved 100 participants. JeepFest has grown each year, fueled by Sheriff Donnie Craig and his entire organization’s compassion for children. The sole purpose of the JeepFest is to raise funds to help provide a place to live, food, clothing, supplies, love and anything else a child might need to prosper. The Sheriff’s Foundation hosts the three-day event packed full of challenging Jeep obstacles--trails, boulders, streams and mud—along with concerts, rides, food, vendors and amazement at the Jeeps’ gravity-defying ability to maneuver.

JF3Hurricane Dorian’s threatening imminent Florida land fall, Stancil said, “Caused many of those planning to come from Florida to Jasper for the Jeep Fest to withdraw just a day or two before the event. Their numbers are not included in the 2,349 total.

While they are still paying bills and don’t have a final net profit number, Stancil says the Sheriff’s Foundation hopes and expects to be near the $140,000 profit netted from last year’s event.

This year’s JeepFest event drew Jeep-owners from 17 states across the country and vendors from 20 states and Canada.

Although Labor Day Weekend is generally peak hurricane season, Stancil says, the land used for many of the events is owned by hunting clubs and not available during hunting season.

The Sheriff's Foundation, Inc. is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization that formed after tornados struck in 2009. For more information about the Pickens County Sheriffs Foundation, go to www.sheriffsfoundation.org.

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This photo shows some of the hundreds of jeeps parked while their owners watched the event.

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Natasha Turner maneuvers her pink jeep on the dirt track.

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