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Volunteers bring Jeep festival together

In the heart of Butler the annual Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival revs up community spirit as local organizations band together to celebrate and give back.

From the tireless efforts of the Knights of Columbus to the passionate participation of The Rodfathers car club, and the steadfast support of the C.B. Rangers, this festival isn't just about Jeeps — it’s a testament to the town's enduring commitment to unity and charity.

Knights of Columbus

The Knights of Columbus Butler Council #866, led by program director Patrick LeMay, is in its second year of volunteering at the festival. The Kights of Columbus will be helping out at Saturday evening’s Duck Dash, a rubber duck race with prizes for the top three finishers. Ducks can be purchased $5 each before the 6:30 p.m. event.

“That funds a lot of their programs throughout the year and all the stuff they do” LeMay said.

Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival attendees watch rubber ducks slide down the hill during the 2023 Duck Dash at Cooper's Lake Campground. Eagle File Photo

The Knights of Columbus also offer volunteer cashiers.

Outside of the Jeep festival, the organization takes part in a number of other volunteer opportunities.

“We do a lot with Butler Catholic. We’ve worked with several different veteran groups. We donate to various groups,” LeMay said. “Somebody had a fire last fall, and we raised money and clothing for them.”

According to LeMay, the Knights of Columbus did over 16 different charitable projects last year, including a coat drive and a basketball free throw shoot. The Knights of Columbus also hold essay writing contests for students.

The Rodfathers

Meanwhile, The Rodfathers, a nearly 30-year-old car club known for its charitable car cruises, has been involved with the festival since its beginning in 2011.

“We take the Jeeps on Friday night and park them downtown on Main street in Butler,” said Dan Cunningham, a Rodfathers member.

Cunningham said he keeps coming back because of what the festival means to him as someone from Butler.

“The Bantam Jeep was originally manufactured in Butler and bringing it back every year they’ve set some real record in attendance,” he said. “We’re more than happy in helping them get this done. We’re happy to be a part of it.”

C.B. Rangers

Paul Wulf, president of the C.B. Rangers of Butler County, highlights the sense of community and tradition that the festival fosters.

“This event brings the community together and helps us showcase our love for Jeeps and Butler’s unique heritage,” Wulf shared.

The C.B. Rangers, a volunteer radio enthusiast organization, has been operating since 1962. The organization will be helping direct traffic during the Jeep festival, and has been since the beginning.

Wulf said he’s been a volunteer member of the C.B. Rangers for close to 50 years.

“Radios were a way to communicate with different people and meet more friends,” he said. “I joined when I was 17, I was a junior member. Then, in 1976, I turned 18 and I became a regular member.”

Wulf has a personal relationship to the Jeep’s heritage, he said.

“My dad, from what I understand, actually worked for a year at the Bantam Jeep factory,” he said.

The C.B. Rangers are looking for new volunteers, Wulf said.

“I’ve been trying to get people to understand that, you know, without us, there’s a lot of these events that could not be done in Butler because we don’t have enough manpower to do it,” Wulf said.

F&AM

The Butler Lodge 272 F&AM will be helping at the festival’s merchandise booths this year.

“Jeep Heritage is a part of the Butler Community, and we want to keep that alive. We’ll be helping with the merchandise booth again this year,” said Adolph Dahl, a representative from the Lodge.

Dahl said that the focus of the lodge is to make good men better and to help their community.

“The Jeep Heritage Festival is part of the Butler community. We want to keep that alive,” he said.

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