St. Jude wagon train will roll this weekend

The wagon train will roll this week for the St. Jude Saddle Up Trail Ride. Some 50 persons are expected to participate in the annual event. Those participating are asked to meet at the Evening Breeze Arena in the Blue Springs area on Saturday morning by 9 a.m. The train will roll at 10 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

By Rozella Hardin
This weekend, the wagon train will be on the roll in the Blue Springs and Stoney Creek communities, when the Fourth Saddle Up Trail Ride will be held to benefit St. Jude Children's Hospital.
Ann VanHuss, co-ordinator for the event, said $2,200 was raised in 2001 and $1,600 last year. "Those participating get sponsors to pay so much per mile traveled, or receive donations. We also receive donations along the route and the following week," she said.
The train on Saturday will head out around 10 a.m. and travel down Blue Springs Road to Highway 91N, up to Weaver's Store, and back down by the Volunteer Market and through Danner Subdivision, back to Blue Springs Road, around the river and to Evening Breeze Arena, where the wagons will make camp on Friday and Saturday nights.
The wagon train will travel to Watauga Dam and back Sunday. "We will travel about 10 miles each day," said VanHuss.
There will be games Saturday night along with music. Arena games will include barrel racing, pole bending, water race, speed race, egg toss and bat race. Also, hot-dogs and drinks will be supplied on Saturday night. "We will also have a number of other prizes donated by merchants to give away," VanHuss said.
"The wagon train will include both the young and old. My father, Bill Allen, who is 88, will be a part of the train and we always have some young children along. It's a fun event for all ages. Some 50 people usually make the annual ride," said VanHuss.
"These people love horses and they love to ride in the wagon train. Some of the roads we will travel on have beautiful scenery. We will pass through valleys and hills, and by the river," she said.
Rubber tires have replaced the steel wheels on the wagons. Most of the wagons have come straight from the farm, while others are custom made.
When cars line up behind the wagon train, the line usually stops to let them pass. The most striking thing is that the wagon train is constantly moving, but there's always time to look -- time to see.
And, when there's trouble, you know there are other wagons to help you along. Even on the road, you have neighbors with helping hands -- some of whom are skilled in the necessities of life on the road. "We usually have a ferrier along in case a horse throws a shoe or has to have one repaired," said VanHuss.
The wagon train is always picking up new participants and younger riders. "Just as there are people of all ages, there are people from all walks of life who travel on the wagon train. You have as much fun whether you're sleeping in a wagon or a tent," VanHuss said, noting that many of the wagon travelers will pitch a tent at Evening Breeze Arena or bring a small camper for the sleep-over. "We have restrooms. We also have pens for the horses to stay in overnight," she said.
The weather? "It's usually not a factor. Of course, it's better traveling and much more enjoyable if the weather is good," VanHuss said.
She suggests those riding bring along some snack foods. You might pack an igloo cooler with some bottled water or sodas, along with some Little Debbies and peanut butter crackers. "Bologna and pimento cheese are good saddlebag staples," said VanHuss, who noted that many of the women on the train will fry chicken and make pots of stew at the campsite. "Some will even have beans and cornbread," she said.
However, VanHuss said those riding on the train Saturday will be able to get lunch at Weaver's Store. "They'll need to bring lunch for Sunday," she added.
Lunch and supper are usually eaten tailgate style and there is a lot of talk comparing this season's garden crop to last year's and a little bit of discussion on world events, and the weather is always a good conversation subject.
When the ride is over Sunday evening, the wagon train riders will have gone 'round one little patch of the world to come back to the same place. There is no passage out west on the wagon train which rolls this weekend, only the trail home. And, those who make the trek are weekend pioneers who will have experienced the open land in an extraordinary way in 2003.