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Jeep gathering brings in record amount of people

Jeep gathering brings in record amount of people
Seth King and his son Levi, 13, of Kempton, Pa., install a headlight bezel on their 1948 dual wheel Willys CJ2-A during the 6th Annual Mason-Dixon Willys Jeep Gathering at the Union Mills Homestead Sunday. (DYLAN SLAGLE/STAFF PHOTO , Carroll County Times)

UNION MILLS - Seth King and his son, Levi, worked together to remove the headlight bezel from an antique Jeep. The pair found a replacement of the bezel at the 6th Annual Mason-Dixon Willys Jeep Gathering at Union Mills Homestead Sunday.

"He's the mechanic," Seth said, of his 13-year-old son.

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The two brought their civilian Jeep to the show, though Seth said he has 11 others at his home in Kempton, Pa. But most of them he doesn't count as "full Jeeps," he said. He takes parts from one and will add it to another.

"You can't have one. You have to have three of them to have one," Seth said.

Jeep enthusiasts gathered at Mike Hardesty's annual event for the largest Jeep show Hardesty has done. More than 50 vehicles registered for the show, between military-era Jeeps to antique civilian Jeeps and Willys-made vehicles ranging from pickup trucks to station wagons.

Hardesty brought one Jeep, but has about four, he said. Hardesty echoed Seth's sentiment about owning Jeeps.

"Jeeps are like potato chips. It's hard to stop at just one," Hardesty said.

Seth became friends with Hardesty through a Jeep show in Pennsylvania held in the spring called the Great Willys Picnic. Inspired by the Great Willys Picnic, Hardesty decided to start a Jeep show in Carroll. He pitched the idea to leadership at the Union Mills Homestead, and they jumped aboard.

Last year Hardesty raised $1,100 from the show to donate to the Union Mills Homestead, he said. Jane Sewell, the executive director of the Union Mills Homestead, said the donations go toward restoration and preservation.

"It's a wonderful partnership. We're delighted for the grounds to be used," Sewell said.

The event has grown over the years, and is now a full weekend event, Hardesty said. Around 14 Jeeps went on a three-hour tour of Gettysburg this year, he said. Visitors stay in Gettysburg or in Westminster, which helps Carroll County tourism, he said.

This year, 13 military-style Jeeps lined the grass of Union Mills Homestead, instead of the usual five or six, Hardesty said. Among the military style Jeeps was a Jeep from Eric "Merlin" Hanson, who was recently featured on a National Geographic television show to restore a Jeep.

Hanson said he added two jobs to his plate since the episode premiered Sept. 26. Hanson is the owner of Hanson Mechanical, and a full-time teacher. This year, he brought a Jeep he was working on for a client to the event, he said.

Hanson said he always looks forward to meeting people at the event. He is currently teaching another Jeep enthusiast in Gettysburg to take care of his own Jeeps, Hanson said.

"The more people who know how to take care of them, the better off we are," Hanson said.

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