LOGAN — Logan’s streets will be alive with the sound of sports utility vehicles (SUVs) and charitable tidings this Friday and Saturday.

The first annual 2021 Hocking Hills Jeep Run by Hocking Hills Podcast will bring in over 340 participants and 150 Jeeps from across the country into the region for the two-day event.

The nonprofit event will benefit Hocking Valley Community Hospital Foundation (HVCH), HVCH Publications Coordinator Leslie Stebelton said in an email. The Jeep run is composed of three stops on Saturday and all proceeds go to HVCH, organizers and Hocking Hills podcasters Michele Mauder and Mary McMartin said.

Around 30 local organizations sponsored the event, the organizers said. There are “Jeepers” coming out from Hocking County and seven different states, McMartin said.

Friday night, Jeep run participants will be met with a private “Welcome Meet & Greet Reception’’ at Hocking Hills Golf Club. Three Chords and a Beer will later perform at Worthington Park, 1 S. Market St., from 6–9 p.m.

With the help of the Logan Town Center, numerous Main Street businesses will expand their operating hours and streets will be shut down (from Market to Spring on Main). Jeep run participants will also get a chance to angle-park on Spring Street to show off their vehicles and modifications.

Registration for the event was $65 and has since sold out; there will also be a 50/50 raffle and an open-to-the-public park golf tournament at Campbell Cove Campground, registration for which is $15 each. There will also be a top three Jeep contest for the “best, most unique and toughest” Jeeps.

The 150-vehicle convoy will be led by a Hocking County Sheriff’s Office (HSCO) escort Saturday, departing from Grey Street at 11 a.m. Its first stop will be Muddy Boots, a Laurelville petting farm.

The Jeeps will then go to the “Shaw ‘Off-Road’ Jeep Challenge” or shop at the Hocking Hills Market off of U.S. 33. Participants in the off-road challenge will compete for a $100, $250 or $500 prize.

The Jeep run will conclude near where it launched, at Brewery 33’s 2021 Oktoberfest Party, which begins Saturday at noon. The Oktoberfest Party will feature German beer, Schmidt’s Food Truck, other vendors, kids activities and live music and will conclude at 10 p.m.

Both Mauder, who owns Carefree Cabins with her husband, and McMartin noted that the coronavirus pandemic has helped accelerate the Hocking Hills as a tourist destination. As HVCH has been unable to host its usual fundraisers, the women thought now was a great opportunity to support the hospital.

“(Most visitors) feel that this is a safe haven for them. Getting away from the hustle and bustle, (that) sort of thing. They’re trying to enjoy what Hocking Hills has to offer in all aspects, not just nature,” McMartin said.

Mauder noted there’s been “no dip” in her business’s booking rate since the pandemic began. All Jeep run participants either booked stays in nearby lodging units or will camp in the Hocking Hills, the women said.

The Jeep run also celebrates Jeep’s 80th anniversary, Mauder added. According to jeep.com, the Jeep brand began in 1940 with “Willys Quad,” which “emerged a hero to thousands of Allied soldiers around the world ... as the undisputed leader in 4x4 technology.”

Jeep’s headquarters are in Toledo, Ohio, where Mauder is from. Mauder worked for Jeep for two decades, she said, so she understands not only the Jeep brand itself but also the Jeep lifestyle. As an example, Mauder explained the “phenomenon” of “Duck, Duck, Jeep.”

“If you get ‘ducked’ — it is an honor to get ‘ducked’ — it means you got a cool Jeep,” Mauder said. “It is a really big thing with ‘Jeepers.’” “Jeepers” line their dashboards with the ducks they’ve been given, she said.

The Jeep run will also feature legendary creature Bigfoot, whom Mauder and McMartin allege has been spotted in the Hocking Hills. The organizers hope this year’s Hocking Hills Jeep Run will become a staple Hocking Hills annual event.

“We think that the Jeep run is going to be really good as an economic developer for the community,” McMartin said. “We think there’ll be a lot of new people getting introduced to Hocking Hills.”

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