Bantam presented their plans in 11 days and their physical prototype vehicle, the "Blitz Buggy" in only 49 days. Designed by Karl Probst, it was an incredible and powerful small capable vehicle and was exactly what the Army needed. When the weight of the prototype came into question at the demonstration, a robust Army officer lifted one end of the vehicle off of the ground and set it back down to prove it was close enough!
Bantam's vision of the vehicle was given the nod by the government. Competitors were allowed to photograph, study and take measurements of Bantams Blitz Buggy and ultimately Willys and Ford were given contracts to produce their take on the Buggy in higher numbers than Bantam was able to do at the time. Still, Bantam is credited for being the creator of the original Jeep. The origin of the name Jeep was either a morphing of GP, meaning general purpose, or from a character in Popeye cartoons named Eugene the Jeep who could climb walls and go anywhere. I like the latter explanation the best. After the war a civilian Jeep was offered, nicknamed a CJ. People eventually began to form clubs to ride on off-road trails and a culture was born and thrives today. Whether folks offroad their Jeeps or take them snow skiing, or if it's just a vehicle they feel a special bond to, this festival celebrates the brand which has evolved through its beginnings at Bantam, through Willys/Ford, Kaiser, AMC, and into the modern day Chrysler family.
The Festival has something for everyone. The downtown invasion is my favorite car show of all time since I'm so fond of Jeeps. You can see pretty much every type of Jeep ever made show up here, many with the owners personal customization. At the Festival site which was at Cooper's Lake Campground this year, there were obstacle courses, on-site trails, food vendors, and Jeep dealers as well as aftermarket parts suppliers, since many Jeepers like to enhance their Jeep's performance and look to their liking.
For more info on the festival, please go to Bantam Jeep Festival site.