Jeeps, food trucks invade Cridersville

CRIDERSVILLE — It all started with giving people something to do during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now it has grown to fill Cridersville’s Main Street with the smells of food trucks, the sounds of music and the sight of more than 100 Jeeps and countless plastic waterfowl.

This year’s Cridersville Food Truck Invasion is the fourth iteration of the event, and according to Cridersville Fire Department Chief Rick Miller, this is just another way of giving back to the community.

“We started it because of COVID to give people something to do to get out since you couldn’t go to a restaurant or anywhere,” he said. “We originally started it with five food trucks and today we registered in 35 food trucks, anything from coffee to lobster. That’s the range we have here, so if you go home hungry, it’s your own fault.”

The fire department has added different attractions to the event over the years starting with craft vendors. That has grown from less than 20 vendors its first year to 71 craft vendors at Saturday’s event. The biggest change lately has come from the event’s latest addition: Jeeps.

“Last year was the first year,” Miller said. “It was word of mouth. We didn’t really advertise it because we knew there were Jeep clubs out there. We had 87. Today, we registered 136. So this Jeep thing has become as big as the car show we do at our Jamboree in July.”

For Jeep owners, the chance to get together and share in their love of the iconic brand is too good to pass up, and Saturday’s event brought out enthusiasts from Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and West Virginia. Whether it was classic Jeeps, brand new models, Jeep-model Power Wheels for kids or even radio-controlled toy Jeeps, the love for this unique vehicle could be seen up and down Main Street.

“You can just be yourself and enjoy yourself,” Erick Benge of Lima said. “You can have an old stock Jeep or have a $50,000 Jeep.”

“You’ve got some that are 50 years old and you’ve probably got some here that still have dealer tags on them,” Reese Newland of Rushsylvania said.

Newland and his wife, Audrey, have been to several Jeep gatherings, and they, like many other Jeep owners, are avid participants in what has become a unique tradition for this fandom: gifting rubber ducks.

“It started with COVID,” Audrey Newland said. “It was our way of saying hi even though we couldn’t get together.”

This tradition has grown to where entire dashboards have been covered with ducks. On some Jeeps, the duck population has swelled to where they are on the grill, the front bumper or even the side mirrors.

“The duck thing is kind of a compliment thing,” Reese Newland said. “You’ll go in the store and come out and find a duck on your door handle or something.”