LIMA — The 4-Wheel Jamboree, which brought 30,000-plus people and $6.5 million in tourism to Lima each year, won’t be returning to the Allen County Fairgrounds.
Organizers of the annual monster truck show, which brought Bigfoot and Grave Digger to Lima, asked to be let out of their contract, said Chad Hughes, promotions and operations manager for the Allen County Fairgrounds.
“We are disappointed they have decided not to come back to the area,” Hughes said. “We are looking for other options to bring events like that event to the fairgrounds.”
The 35th edition of the O’Reilly Auto Parts Ohio 4-Wheel Jamboree didn’t happen in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers originally postponed the June 12-14 event to Oct. 23-25, but the new date was also canceled by the coronavirus.
There are still stops for the Lucas Oil 4-Wheel Jamboree Series scheduled in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, in July and Indianapolis in September, according to the series’ website.
Hughes said the number of attendees has declined over the years from the heights it saw in the 1990s and early 2000s, but it was still a “very viable event.” He said he’s already in talks with promoters about bringing a similar event to the fairgrounds.
Christine Pleva, executive director of Visit Greater Lima, said the event still brought in large crowds, making it the largest out-of-town event bringing people into Lima. It started in 1985, with competition in May through 2017. After suffering through several years with rainy track conditions, it moved to a June date in 2018 and 2019 before 2020’s cancelation.
Organizers came into town early with the event bringing fans into town for the Friday-Saturday-Sunday event, including hotel stays, sales at the event and eating at local restaurants accounting for $6.5 million in tourism.
“The motorcycle races for this year are still on, and there’s still Max’s Trader Days and Water Dogs, so there are still large events here,” Pleva said. “Now we’ll do our best to be on the lookout for any large event — or a medium event or small event to fill any voids.”
Organizers of the 4-Wheel Jamboree didn’t return requests for comment Friday morning.
“The 4-Wheel Jamboree in Lima, Ohio has been postponed indefinitely,” its Facebook page acknowledged. “As part of our ongoing work to re-energize and redefine this series, we are exploring alternative locations in the region and across the US.”
The remainder of the summertime traditions still are scheduled, including a full Allen County Fair at this point, Hughes said. Last year’s fair switched to a Junior Fair-only event due to restrictions from the state related to the pandemic. That forced the fair’s showcased entertainment, Brad Paisley, to push back his show until this year.
“We’re going full steam ahead, planning as if everything else is on and still happening,” Hughes said.