As a lifelong off-road and truck enthusiast, I have always wanted to attend the famed 4-Wheel Jamboree. I finally got the chance and headed to Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania for their 34th annual event. Taking place at the town’s fairgrounds on July 9-11, the Bloomsburg 4-Wheel Jamboree featured a fair like atmosphere complete with live action entertainment and lots of impressive trucks, 4x4s, trail rigs, of every nature.
Working with the show organizers, Off Road Xtreme and our sister publication Diesel Army were invited out to cover the event. We were also each tasked with identifying a worthy Show and Shine entry for an “Editor’s Choice” award. This was an awesome opportunity that both myself and Artie Maupin did not take lightly. Artie and I defined our own criteria of what an Editor’s Choice award winner might look like. We were on site for the entire length of the three day event and spent many hours scouring through a maze of vehicle displays that spread out over many acres. Diesel Army has already published their version of the event recap, so give it a read.
Bloomsburg is situated in the most North Eastern part of Appalachian hill country and lies on the banks of the Susquehanna River. Frankly, it is a beautiful area full of lush green foliage and abundant life everywhere you look. The central location allowed thousands of visitors to come from many neighboring states as well as making the long haul from far. Besides most of the people calling Pennsylvania home, we talked to dozens of Show and Shine participants that hail from Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, Ohio, South Carolina, or Virginia.
Truck Of All Different Flavors!
Off-road and truck people are a special breed, but in the end they are vehicle enthusiasts. They take pride in making their ride look a certain way, or perform and function for a certain purpose. Shiny and flawless paint to rusted out buckets. The latest and greatest to the timeless classics. The jacked up show only rides to the purpose built tank that could drive through a wall.
Flashy Paint, Chrome, and Hoods Up Was An Easy Way to Get Noticed.
This is one of the reasons why the 4-Wheel Jamboree is so awesome. All of these highly customized vehicles flocking together and enjoying the culture.
Large And In Charge!
Being from the West Coast and my first time to this event, the Show and Shine was definitely my favorite part of the show. Right away, I identified a vehicle style that most in attendance considered desirable. This truck flavor is not exactly common in Southern California, but for me growing up in the 1980s I was certainly digging. I am talking about classic trucks jacked up and just obnoxiously huge.
Besides the Show and Shine competition, the 4-Wheel Jamboree presented many other components of the event. One of the most popular was the Cruise Route. Any street legal vehicle, and a registered participant was allowed to drive their vehicle around the showgrounds along a designated route. This was a bit of a spectacle, but also great entertainment, and an easy way to see everyone and their rides. In some cases, it was so that everyone else would see them, sort of like peacocking.
The Cruise Route Was Definitely A Party.
The 4-Wheel Jamboree Is A Truck Enthusiast Paradise With Many Different Activities!
Other show activities included vendor midway, the A&A Truck & Off-Road Pavilion and Performance Marketplace, Monster Truck rides, the burn out competition, a mobile wheel dyno challenge to test vehicle horsepower, and finally a Blackberry Smoke concert and fireworks to close out the show. The highlight on the event schedule was the live action motorsports from the Mega Trucks, and Mud Boggers
The motorsports component of the 4-Wheel Jamboree definitely delivered for the fans and left them wanting a little more. The Friday night main event feature was called off just when it was getting started due to severe weather that came through. I was carrying a waterproof shell as the weather report was promising downpours in our area. It definitely came in handy and kept me mostly dry while taking shelter under my golf cart roof. Still shooting photographs of the Mega Trucks ripping through the mud, the rain started coming in sideways and ended up retreating for cover. It did not matter though, it was obvious the main event could not continue under these conditions.
Do not get me wrong, I enjoy long walks in the rain and will never let the weather spoil anything for me. The Mega Truck drivers, as well as the fans felt the same way, but for the sake of safety and track surface integrity, officials wisely shut it down. We packed it up and headed out to get some dinner.
On The Hunt And Sorting Through Hundreds Of Vehicles Was No Easy Task.
The next morning, we showed up early to watch the attendees and truck enthusiast pile in. Artie and I posted up at the venue gate as the vehicles filtered in hoping to spot some clean rides and anything new. We both agreed that our respective Editor’s Choice award winning criteria could not be your typical Show and Shine all show and no go vehicles. They had to be a total package ride, with good looks and functional performance. And the vehicle had to have a good story attached to it.
Our mission for Saturday was to lock in and confirm our picks while looking to find a handful of vehicle features we could highlight down the road after the show. There were so many interesting and unique vehicles. Most of the trucks were personalized in some way with a large moniker window decal that would be easily identifiable. We searched long and hard inspecting different vehicles that piqued our interest. After spending the entire three days surrounded by the glory that is the 4-Wheel Jamboree, I must recognize and appreciate the passion and enthusiasm that these folks pour into their rides.
In the mix of it all, I wanted to share with you several of my favorites that I have selected for upcoming Off Road Xtreme vehicle features. There were so many great choices, put together by the many talented truck enthusiast, but these were my top five picks.
Off Road Xtreme’s Editor’s Choice Award Winner!
For the Off Road Xtreme Editor’s Choice award, I landed on a fabulous 1989 4×4 Ford Ranger. I can hear it now. WTF! A Ford Ranger! You got to be kidding. Well, no I am not kidding. This thing is absolutely pristine with an immaculate paint job and packing a bitching 5.0 Mustang motor. The attention to detail and workmanship is very impressive showing that this was a ground up build. The award is very much well deserved in our opinion.
Pretty much the first thing that caught my eye was its single cab configuration. I love single cabs. Being 6’4” tall and over two hundred pounds, I have never owned a single cab, but I do love the looks. The second thing I noticed was the long bed. Where I come from and when I grew up, this particular arrangement was highly sought after and the ideal platform to build a off-road prerunner truck. The wheelbase was the perfect setup to achieve maximum off-road performance in this size vehicle. Everything about the truck said it is a capable off-roader if it wanted to be.
The Single Cab Long Bed Presents The Ideal Wheelbase For A Go-Fast Off-Road Performance.
The more you looked at this truck, the more impressive it became. Every component, every nut and bolt, everything and anything had been carefully sourced, diligently prepared, and properly arranged in its place. Then I heard the story. Robert Fry and his father Robert Fry Senior built this truck together as a father and son project. Fry Senior is a retired U.S. Air Force Vietnam Veteran who started a paint and body shop after the service. His son, Robert, is a mechanic. Together they built many show quality award winning vehicle projects in the past. This truck was definitely up to par and really showed off their craft in the tasteful theme, color selection, paint as well as the fit and finish details. Dropping the 5.0 in there was just the cherry.
Besides the truck itself, one of my favorite aspects of the vehicle was the very special hand painted mural tribute honoring the U.S. Air Force which covered the tailgate. What appears to be a Cessna O-1 Bird Dog as the main feature, perhaps is a throwback to Fry Senior’s days in the Vietnam conflict. During the war, the Bird Dog was a small fixed wing aircraft used primarily for reconnaissance, target acquisition, artillery adjustment, radio relay, convoy escort and the forward air control of tactical aircraft, according to wikipedia. I can only imagine what it would be like to fly over a combat zone with no more protection than the paper thin walls of a Cessna.
The Main Event: Mega Truck And Mud Boggs!
The Mud Boggs and Mega Trucks continued throughout the weekend. The Burnout competition smoked out the grandstands. We finally saw a truck on the dyno with a large crowd gathering around. There was just a lot of action and variety all centered around these awesome 4-wheeled vehicles. It was a blast.
Looking back now after a few weeks have passed since the 34th annual Bloomsburg 4-Wheel Jamboree, I can honestly say it was an awesome experience that I will never forget. The people were great and just down right friendly. I loved seeing all of the different flavors of trucks, jeeps, and 4x4s. It was so different from what I am used to. The event organizers have arranged for us to return to the next 4-Wheel Jamboree taking place in Indianapolis, Indiana over the weekend of September 17 through the 19th. I am definitely looking forward to that coming up. If you are in the area, Off Road Xtreme would enjoy meeting our truck enthusiast audience, so please let us know.
Till then, click though and enjoy the image gallery from the Bloomsburg 4-Wheel Jamboree!