This year the Jeepers Jamboree celebrates its 60th anniversary of providing off-road, four-wheel drive family adventure. With this anniversary comes the same great trail experience as well as the stress of getting all the particulars in line.
“It’s been insane,” said Lacey Stiles, office manager, bookkeeper, custodian and more at the local Georgetown office on Main Street. “Our office stays open all year long and I spend it keeping up the Website, our insurance, making contracts and getting our permits. There’s also no information center in Georgetown, so I get to be it.”
As out-of-towners walk Main Street, Stiles said they come into her office asking questions about the town, surrounding trails and other happenings.
She also helps design T-shirts and sweatshirts for the event, as well as getting them printed. Stiles designed this year’s sweatshirt and women’s tank.
Visualizing the image she would like, Stiles works with the printing company providing input as to her personal preferences. This year’s sweatshirt is expected to please with a “scroll” image on the back that lists all of the landmarks of the legendary trip, including Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Loon Lake, the Granite Bowl and Arnold’s Rock, to name just a few on the southwest side of Rubicon Springs.
“Arnolds for Awards (in Shingle Springs) does our bumper stickers, memorabilia items and dash plaques,” said Stiles. “They’ve been in business for a long time and have always been a great supporter of Jamboree.” Owner Mike Arnold is also one of the eight Jamboree committee members.
This year’s highly anticipated anniversary trip promises to have a few upgrades.
“There may be some food changes, and we’ve stepped up the entertainment this year,” said Stiles, adding that the nationally known band, Whiskey Dawn, will be the featured performer. “We’re going to have two historical talks, one with geologist George Wheeldon and one with Steve Morris. Steve’s son, Rick, also will be in camp selling his book, ‘The History of the Rubicon Trail,’ again this year.”
VFW Growlersburg Post 9241 prepares breakfast every morning for each trip, and the American Legion Post No. 119 of Placerville prepares the food, for which Mike and Sherri Arnold are the liaisons.
A huge raffle provides the chances for a lucky participant to win a 1998 TJ Wrangler, and with vendors inside the camp at Rubicon Springs, vehicle products of all kinds are available for purchase.
“We’ve talked about bringing the vendor fair back to town (Main Street, Georgetown), but it costs more to put it on here,” said Stiles, adding that portable toilets and large dumpsters have to be rented for the two to three days that participants are in Georgetown picking up their goodie bags. “Besides, our vendors love Jeeping in with our participants,” she added. “It provides an opportunity for people to see how the products actually work on the trail.”
As of mid-May, 900 paying participants signed up for this year’s trip. That does not include all of the workers who set up, prepare food and maintain the organization of the event.
Stiles said she is lucky to have help from her sister, Jenna Spillers, who is spending her sixth year helping to prepare goodie bags and the “wag” bags for the participants.
“I process the vendors’ things and put them in the goodie bags,” said Spillers.
“Between answering phones and e-mails, I never have time for folding T-shirts and sweats, and getting the bags together,” said Stiles, who also works with the eight different owners of the property at Rubicon Springs along with the various committee members.
Seasonal help in the Jamboree office has included Shelly King for more years than Stiles can remember. Stiles took over the office manager’s position in 2004.
“Shelly has worked here for many years,” said Stiles, who took over the office from Marcella Kenny. Penny Marshall ran the Jeepers Jamboree office in the late 1990s, and King has worked with them all.
“My dad, Dick Celio, used to help with (Georgetown Divide) Rotary selling ice cream,” said King, who figured she had been involved with helping out in the office for more than 22 years. “He was also a Rock Roller. I started out selling T-shirts.”
At first, shirts were sold primarily from the office or at the end point in South Lake Tahoe, but King said, “Lacey makes it a priority for us to go into the Springs. We have a booth and sell the T-shirts there. People seem to like having us in there (like an information station),” she added.
Throughout the years many things have changed for Jamboree participants. Some of the obvious changes are the enhanced vehicles — larger tires, spring-over suspension systems and higher lift kits tend to make the trip easier and perhaps more comfortable — but there’s nothing like seeing a near-stock machine making its way along the trail.
“Some of the old traditions have changed,” King added. “The helicopter used to fly through the middle of town above the Jeeps that were then parked in the middle of town. People used to sleep under their Jeeps the night before taking off. It was traditional for locals to go up to town and look at the Jeeps. Now, you’re lucky if anybody is in town.”
Several years ago providing breakfast in town through the Eastern Stars and Rebekah fraternal organizations changed to a portable breakfast at the trailhead. As a mobile adventure there is sense to the change, which is foreseen as continual.
The Rubicon Trail, as other off-road vehicle locations, is in danger of eventual closure. Currently, strict controls are being established by El Dorado County and the State Water Resources Control Board, but four-wheelers out to enjoy the 60th Jeepers Jamboree can rest assured that everything is taken care of for the weekend this year.
Jamboree directors helping keeping the “legend” alive are Dan DeWolf, president; Robert Mainwaring, vice president; Bill McDavid, secretary; Mike Arnold, treasurer; Bob Sweeney, Dan Mainwaring, Jimmy Martin and Mike McNatt.