Take a step back in time . . . the horses are saddled, the teams are hitched to the wagons, and the settlers are ready to venture down the road for the day. Rain or shine, they will travel at 3½ miles per hour, making their way to the next town for a new overnight camp.
This will be the life of approximately 100 people who participate in the 2013 Friendship Wagon Train for a full week. Not only are they out for the adventure, but their primary goal is to collect donations for Camp Winnebago.
This group of hearty souls will be traveling through the area from June 22-29. Their sole purpose is to raise awareness and collect donations for Camp Winnebago, located just outside of Caledonia. Camp Winnebago runs several one-week summer camps for children and adults with developmental disabilities, providing them the opportunity to share in outdoor activities that most of us take for granted. 100 percent of funds raised by the volunteer wagontrainers is donated to Camp Winnebago to be used strictly for camperships, so no one will be turned away due to financial inability to pay the cost of a full campership.
The Friendship Wagon Train has traveled through many parts of Minnesota over the years, this year marking the 25th anniversary of the group. Participants come from across the country-Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia-to be a part of this fundraiser. The route for the week is as follows . . . Assembly in Dexter on Friday, June 21. At 8 a.m. on Saturday, June 22, the wagon train will depart Dexter, traveling to Bear Creek Lutheran Church for noon break and then on to High Forest for overnight camp. June 23-High Forest to Gamehaven Scout Reservation (GSR). June 24 - GSR to Chester to a countryside camp along County road 9 north of Eyota. June 25 - Countryside camp to St Charles. June 26 - St Charles to Utica to Lewiston. June 27 - Lewiston to Wilson to Ridgeway. June 28 - Ridgeway to Nodine to the Joe Ready farm near LaCrescent. On Saturday, June 29, the Wagon Train will have its final ceremony at the Joe Ready farm where the group will present all donations raised through the week to Barb Cage, Director of Camp Winnebago.
Meals along the route will be prepared and served by several organizations in the communities through which the Wagon Train will pass-Lions Clubs, Saddle Clubs, Boy Scouts, Church groups, 4H Clubs, local individuals and communities, and businesses.
In past years, the Friendship Wagon Train has raised over $30,000 per year during the week's journey. They hope to be just as successful for the year of 2013. Individual, business, and group donations are accepted all along the route. Any donation, large or small, is greatly appreciated.
The public is invited to come out and meet the Wagon Train participants when they pass through your area. Come and see the variety of horses, mules, wagons, and buggies, and learn more about Camp Winnebago. Stop by the Wagon Train's Peddler Wagon to purchase souvenir T-shirts, hats, and several other items. For more information, contact John Davis, Wagon Master, at (507) 365-8064 before June 19.