Like dinosaurs fighting off extinction, more than 200 VW buses will be seen making the pilgrimage up to the 30th annual Jerome VW Bus Jamboree from Thursday, Sept. 23, through Sunday, Sept. 26.
Even though the drivers of these buses may travel in the slow lane, they are living life in the fast lane at the Arizona Bus Club’s Jerome Jamboree where hundreds of vintage Volkswagens will converge at the Gold King Mine for a four-day campout and mini-convention with live music.
The highlight of the event is the $1 ticket raffle to win a refurbished 1968 VW bus, valued around $40,000 this year. You can bet your sweet bippy, that’s groovy. The event was canceled last year due to COVID, but a Cottonwood resident drove away with the winning VW bus in 2019 valued at $25,000.
This year’s raffle bus was refurbished in Phoenix and was donated by a club member who passed away a few years ago, said Joe Jacinto, events coordinator for the Arizona Bus Club.
“You have to be there to win it,” Jacinto explained.
The drawing is Sunday at noon, but you can purchase it sometime during the event Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday morning. “This is the event you might be able to win a bus for a dollar,” Jacinto pointed out.
The winning bus was not always worth as much, explained Jacinto. The buses were once cherished by hippies and young adventurers. Now they are cherished by investors.
VW buses are not produce produced anymore so they are collector’s items. Buyers from as far away as Germany are buying buses and bringing them home, he said.
Jacinto said the estimated market value for this year’s raffle bus is around $40,000 and $45,000, if he is not mistaken, Jacinto said. But a similar bus may have been worth about $5,000 or $10,000 30 years ago. He said the proceeds of the raffle go back to the bus community for their events and the cost of buying raffle buses.
The public does not need to have a bus to come to the event and the $5 entrance fee goes to buy future buses and to the community.
Gates will open at 10 a.m. Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday and people can view the air-cooled Volkswagens until the sun sets, he said.
The group has purchased a new stage for live music and “locals are welcome to hang out with us” until 10 p.m., he said.
In 2019, Jacinto said the event had almost 250 Volkswagen buses and a variety of other VW vehicles like Bugs, Things, Karmann-Ghias and Fastbacks. The buses range from the 1950s to 2003, he said.
VW buses are getting harder and harder to find today, Jacinto said. Even though he and other VW owners could get a great price, they would be selling more than a vehicle, they would be selling a lifestyle, Jacinto said.
Email Vyto Starinskas at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 928-634-2241, ext. 6031.