Forest County to host Jeep Jamboree
No one can deny the importance of tourism to Forest County’s overall economic health, and its hosting of the Wisconsin Off-Highway Vehicle Association‘s (WOHVA) annual Jeep Jamboree with off-road 4×4 activities taking place on Mole Lake tribal lands this month.
The Wisconsin Off-Highway Vehicle Association (WOHVA) and Jeep Jamboree USA are excited about the 16th Annual Northwoods event and this marks the 5th year hosted by Mole Lake. The Jeep Jamboree USA begins Thursday, July 19 and runs through Saturday, July 20. Each year this event attracts Jeep enthusiasts from various parts of the United States which enables northern Wisconsin’s hospitality to shine with the farthest away coming from California this year.
Jeep owners will spend Friday and Saturday exploring a network of trails located on the Mole Lake Indian Reservation in the heart of Forest County. Jeep Jamborees are off-road adventure weekends that bring together the outdoors, down-to-earth people, and their Jeep 4×4’s. These off-road treks have a long tradition dating back to 1953 when Jeep pioneer Mark A. Smith organized the first ever Jeep Jamboree and voyaged across the Sierra Nevada Mountains by way of the old Rubicon Trail. In 1954, Willys Motors–then manufacturer of Jeep Brand vehicles–became involved with the adventure, and Jeep Jamborees have been an off-road tradition ever since.
This year nearly 90 Jeeps and their owners will participate. The Mole Lake Lodge and Conference Center serves as the headquarters for this premier event. The host club is the Wisconsin Off-Highway Vehicle Association and the Local Jeep Jamboree Coordinator is John Schnorr, Chief Executive Officer.
Schnorr supports the possibilities of an off-road park in the Northwoods which would be a perfect fit and he said, “With the huge demand, if Forest County is indeed lucky enough to become the host site of such a park, it would be a huge economic boost to the local area of northern Wisconsin.”
The Wisconsin Off-Highway Vehicle Association explains that trails here in Forest County would enable off-road enthusiasts to get off the pavement and into the dirt. Current statistics reveal there are some 300,000 motorized off-road enthusiasts throughout our state. Owners of an off road vehicle, looking for a place to put the vehicle into four wheel drive and experience all the thrills associated with this type of recreation may soon find an answer near the Crandon area.
Off-road racing is a very popular sport with a very long history here in the Northwoods, especially at the Brush Run in Crandon. According to Schnorr, off road vehicle enthusiasts are looking for some room to play because currently the 30-mile section of legal off-road trail is getting crowded. And Schnorr says a lot of people would play and stay, “It’s not uncommon to have 1,200-1,800 visitors to a park of this type, daily.”
State Representative Jeff Mursau, a member of the Wisconsin 36th Assembly District (Republican) was very upbeat when he addressed the WOHVA luncheon gathering about future plans in Forest County last year. Forest County is already known statewide and often nationally as the king of off-road. So to bringing more motor sports activities and to further Forest County trail development will continue to grow the brand within the off-road industry. Expanding the trail system and moving toward a motorized recreational park gives folks the opportunity to come up and stay instilling a prepardnes to be ready to handle such crowds. Fortunately the infrastructure is in place, and the DNR must consider that Forest County is the best choice. This idea will continue to be pursued, whether or not the DNR comes up with any funding.
Schnorr is confident the DNR will go ahead with the plan and said, “Forest County is an outstanding and much un-utilized four-season vacation paradise, and it’s just great here and it may just be the next great off road vacation destination.”
The Sokaogon Chippewa will host the Jeep Jamboree USA, on trails which have been developed through a joint initiative between the Sokaogon Indian tribe and WOHVA within the confines of the reservation.
The State’s Secretary of Tourism Stephanie Klett announced last year its plans to establish a better relationship with Wisconsin’s Native American communities. Klett understands that everyone knows about casino gaming, but much more is in store in promoting tribal cultural tourism and northern Wisconsin four-season outdoor recreation; thereby enhancing the State’s overall tourism promotions. The Sokaogon Mole Lake Band of Chippewa has the historic wild rice beds alongside the 1860s Dinesen House Log Cabin, listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is connected with the Forest County ATV trail system.
The Governor’s tourism initiative includes the slogan “Wisconsin: Open for Business” and the “Travel Green Wisconsin” program is quite evident within Wisconsin’s pristine Wolf River area.