|By KIM TIBBS
THORNTOWN, Ind. — On Nov. 12, 57 riders participated in the successful “Saddle Up for St. Jude’s Kids,” a trail ride as a fund-raiser for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. More than $2,500 was raised for St. Jude’s during the event, which also raised awareness for the Farm Heritage Trail project.
This event was made possible with the cooperation of several different individuals and organizations. St. Jude helped promote and organize the event and the ride was hosted by Frontier Co-op Farm and Home Store in Lebanon. A local farmer, John King, donated the use of his undeveloped abandoned rail corridor (proposed for the Farm Heritage Trail) for the ride. Donnie Lawson, an Indiana Farm Bureau director, and his wife, Tammy, who works with the Indiana Department of Agriculture, donated the use of an adjacent field for trailer parking and also worked the food both on behalf of the Boone County Township 4-H Club.
Sherri Maksymczak, ITRA director, was on hand to help with registration. Kevin Heber, on behalf of the Hoosier Rails-to-Trails Council, and David Cook, representing Friends of Boone County Trails, were also present to answer questions.
A local equestrian, Lori Stover, was the catalyst that brought everything together and her husband, Jeff, served as trail guide.
Riders got a special preview of this future hiking, biking and horse trail, intended to highlight central Indiana’s rich agricultural heritage while enhancing regional tourism and economic development.
Ultimately, it is envisioned to provide nonmotorized connections to Prophetstown State Park as well as to Indianapolis Greenway trails. Along several miles of the route, a dedicated horse trail is planned, which will parallel the foot and bike treadway. Trail heads designed for horse trailer parking will be installed as the trail is developed.
Currently, the nonprofit group, Friends of Boone County Trails, is seeking funds to purchase, improve and open this trail, which was on loan for the St. Jude ride only and is not currently open to the public. The ride began at approximately 9:30 a.m., with trailers still pulling in. It was breezy but the trees along each side of the rail line gave fairly good protection from the wind and it turned out to be perfect weather for riding. According to Lori Stover, at a brisk walk it took about an hour to ride the five miles to the turnaround spot.
“We had a short break and then everyone was allowed to ride back at their own pace,” said Stover. “On the way back, we were passed by several folks who had gotten a late start but the trail was wide enough to allow for passing without any trouble.
“Along the way we saw deer, a very large herd of horses pastured with llamas and round bales of corn stalks. I am told that the fall foliage had been brilliant the previous week and there was still some color left to enjoy on the ride.”
As soon as the group returned, the local 4-H club provided lunch. After everyone had eaten, there was a drawing for door prizes – everything from halters to chocolate truffles. Anyone who didn’t win a prize was given a complimentary ITRA 2005 Trail Guide.
In addition to the prizes, Stover said all of the participants were also given goody bags with various items and coupons inside, thanks to generous donations from the following local businesses and organizations: Frontier Co-op, Land O’ Lakes Feed, Absorbine, Manna Pro, Fort Dodge Animal Health, Eqyss Grooming Products, Weaver Leather, BMB, Barry Dornon, ITRA, David Alan Chocolates in Lebanon and Stookeys Restaurant in Thorntown.
“All in all, it was a very pleasant morning,” said Stover. “My husband and I got to meet some more horse people that I had only known via e-mail previously and we enjoyed the leisurely ride. I would definitely say that the event was a success and I am hopeful that the trail will eventually be open to the public.”
For more information on the Farm Heritage Trail, visit www.farmheritage trail.org or contact Kevin Heber, Hoosier Rails-to-Trails Council, at 317-410-0755 by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact David Cook, Friends of Boone County Trails, at 765-436-2231 or by e-mail at email@example.com
To make a tax-deductible donation to the fund-raising campaign to purchase and develop the rail corridor into a unique public trail for walking, biking and horseback riding, send a check payable to Community Foundation of Boone County to Community Foundation of Boone County, P.O. Box 92, Zionsville, IN 46077. Write “Friends of Boone County Trails” in the memo line.
Published in the November 30, 2005 issue of Farm World.