Shirley, Upton Lead Speaker Series

Inside the friendly confines of the Glass City Convention Center on Saturday, August 5, our Speakers Series will present six very unique versions of the Jeep story.

The official Speakers Series, presented by Local 351, will feature Tedd Long, Dean Shirley, Patty Upton, Grant Robinson, Paul and Kerri Porter and Jess Soffee and will run from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. on the main stage in the Glass City Center.

Tedd Long (12:30 p.m.) is a Chief Storyteller and Tour Guide, an Emmy award-winning author, photographer, lecturer, and curator of As a local author and master storyteller, Tedd’s unique appreciation for the city is shown through his self-guided GPS audio tours, blog posts, documentaries, and his books, including his most recent, “The Toledo Papers,” which will be published this fall by The University of Toledo Press. Tedd will speak about Toledo’s iconic symbol of American ingenuity (Jeep) and its history in Hollywood productions.

Dean Shirley (1 p.m.) is a popular Podcaster and Author, affiliated with East Coast Overland Adventures, Echoes of Adventure, No Highways Tour and 4Low Digital Labs. Shirley comes to the 2023 Toledo Jeep Festival with his customized LS V8 powered 2004 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited and home-built Off-Road Camping Trailer to share his life long passion for overland adventure travel. You can also see Shirley and his rig at Toledo Jeep Fest Base Camp. Starting as a Boy Scout in his teenage years, and with over 20 years in the off-road industry, he has spent a lifetime honing his skills and sharing his knowledge with his fellow adventure travelers. This year on the main stage he will be discussing the Jeep Badge of Honor trail system and the resources you can use to help you conquer your next Jeep Trail!

Patty Upton (1:30 p.m.) is an iconic overlander who will be presenting: A World Odyssy – The Epic Voyage of the Sand Ship Discovery. A bridge builder and secretary, Loren and Patty Upton have lived their dream. Loren was a seeker of romantic high adventure, his goal was to take a 1966 CJ-5 Jeep around the world from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, to Punta Arenas/Chile, Cape Agulhas, South Africa to Gamvik, Norway all on land except for crossing the Atlantic Ocean. This overland journey was over 56,000 miles and provided a lifetime of memories: first all-land crossing of the Darien Gap of Panama and Colombia by a motor vehicle, 741 days and 125 miles of no roads, an entry in the 1992 Guinness Book of Records, 4,000 miles of four-wheeling in Africa, and more. Sadly, Loren passed away in August 2022, and Patty is attempting to fulfill their goal to showcase their Guinness Book of Record Jeep.

Grant Robinson (2:30 p.m.) is a Senior Manager at the Toledo South Assembly Plant (Stellantis), home of the Jeep Gladiator. A lifelong Toledoan, Grant is a recognized subject matter expert in automotive paint processes, automotive assembly, continuous improvement, professional maintenance, and energy management. His leadership earned him the 2021 Energy Star Partners Award for reducing energy use at the Toledo Assembly Complex. He has experience in multiple manufacturing applications and Jeep vehicle platforms built in Toledo, originally starting with the launch of the Cherokee in 2013. With both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Toledo, Grant is President of the U.T. Alumni association’s Jeep Affiliate. Grant will speak about the people and processes of Toledo Jeep and the connection to the community.

Paul and Keri Porter (3 p.m.) are Founders of Discover 4X4 Adventures. Together, Keri and Paul Porter have spent nearly the last 20 years living the #jeeplife. In 2021, they began living their dream life and turned their hobby into a full-time business, Discover 4×4 Adventures. Their mission is to build knowledge and confidence for all new off-road enthusiasts through beginner and advanced drivers’ training, while also offering private guiding and fully planned adventure trips. Discover 4×4’s intimate classes and trips are ideal for learning to understand your specific vehicle’s features and how to properly navigate different terrains safely. Come enjoy the stories the Porters have to share about how they got started 20 years ago, the lessons they’ve learned and the unforgettable memories they’ve made along the way.

Jess Soffee (3:30 p.m.) is an Extension Educator for 4-H Youth Development for Lucas County. She is new to the Toledo area but no stranger to Jeep! She has owned multiple Jeeps and feels right at home in Jeep Country. In fact, her LJ has become the icon for the Lucas County 4-H program. As the 4-H educator, Jess works with youth 5 – 18 years of age providing positive youth development programs to Lucas County youth. The local 4-H program is a proud partner with Apple, allowing Jess to bring STEM curriculum to both in-school participants and traditional 4-H members. Be sure to sign up your future Jeeper this fall! Enrollment for the Lucas 4-H program starts in November. Give her a wave when you see her around!