The New England states are world-renowned for their small towns rich with history and their leaves that change to brilliant fiery colors in Autumn. Four-wheeling in and around these states brings a Jeeper closer to the natural splendor gifted upon these mountains and townships. The quaint and beautiful town of Bethel, Maine, is no exception to the rule, and for the past 13 years, it has been home to Jeep Jamboree USA's spectacular Maine Mountain's four-wheeling event.
2002 was the golden 50th anniversary year for Jeep Jamboree USA. These family oriented four-wheeling events have never stopped gaining popularity and attract more and more participants every year. Doug and Jodie Wilson host the Maine Mountains Jeep Jamboree. This husband and wife team has done an excellent job over the years organizing and gathering community support to make this the successful event it is today. Participants travel from all reaches of the country to enjoy the challenging and numerous trails, Jeeping camaraderie, family fun, and the opportunity to test their four-wheeling skills. This year the event saw more than 190 participants and 110 vehicles.
The Maine Mountains Jamboree has a little something for everyone, with trails rating in difficulty from 4 to 6. To make the new Jeepsters feel at ease on the trails, Doug holds a first-time-drivers trail seminar teaching the basics of off-road techniques. This year, 18 Jeepers took part in the course. After the one-day driving course, everyone was amazed at the skill of new 'wheelers and their ability to confidently make it through every trail hazard the event had to offer.
The first day of the event we found the participants gathering at the beautiful Bethel Inn and Country Club for registration, check-in, and trail information. The Bethel Inn is a quaint hotel and resort that opened around 1913; it still holds all the charm and mystery of that fascinating era gone by. Each day the participants of the jamboree were served a first class breakfast and dinner buffet. After a long day on the trail, it was a welcome treat to enjoy some fine dinning with friends, old and new.
The trails were alive with action and adventure, which varied from picturesque county roads to meandering boulder-strewn trails, mud pits, and intense hill climbs. If you have never experienced a Jeep Jamboree, then you are missing out on some of the best four-wheeling around. It's an amazing sight to see everyone lend a helping hand when a vehicle gets stuck; the rest of the participants usually lend moral support by cheering them on. It's easy to see why the Jamborees build lasting friendships and life-long Jeepers.
Some could say that the broken axles, blown tires, and breakdowns are all part of the fun. Of course some participants thrive on the trail repairs as much as they do the four-wheeling itself. But don't worry, every Jamboree has its share of dedicated support personnel. With the help of the local Jeep club, the Western Maine Mountain Jeepers, the event always goes smoothly. This year about 18 experienced club members and friends of the club were in attendance and out on the trail as guides to support the participants with any needed assistance.
The Maine Mountain Jamboree is held in October; this time of the year is usually when the trees and foliage are on fire with brilliant reds, yellows, and oranges. This year, though, due to unusually dry and hot weather, the leaves didn't fully change as usually do. But make no mistake; the four-wheeling around Bethel was still more than breathtaking.
After two full days of 'wheeling, the participants were still longing for more and vowing to return for the 2003 Jamboree. On the last night of the event everyone was treated to either a famous Maine lobster or steak dinner. Also on the last night, many participants were even more elated when their name was drawn in the raffle for some very cool four-wheeling prizes. If you are looking for a great place to participate in an off-road adventure with family or friends, then consider Jeep Jamboree's USA 14th Annual Maine Mountain's adventure in 2003.
For more information on this year's event, contact: Jeep Jamboree USA, Dept. 4WDSU, P.O. Box 1601, 2776 Sourdough Flat, Georgetown, CA 95634, (530) 333-4777, www.jeepjamboreeusa.com.