By Charles Chandler
N3 Note:We asked Mr. Chandler, Mayor of White Cloud, avid angler, outdoor enthusiast and Chief Protagonist behind the Trail Town celebration to provide us with a little background as well as a little preview of what to expect at this third annual festival of forest flavored family fun that fetes the abundance of natural wonders enjoyed by those of us who call this area home.
September 29 and 30th in the White Cloud Campground and County Park
Thanks to the Near North Now editorial staff for t the opportunity to talk about our National Recreational treasure, the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT) and the upcoming White Cloud Trail Town Celebration.
White Cloud became a trail town when a diverse group of North Country Trail Association (NCTA) folks helped build the current 4.5 Connector trail that begins and ends in the White Cloud Campground and County Park and links White Cloud to the NCT. After completing the Connector trail we petitioned the NCTA and on June 7, 2014 the City of White Cloud received their Trail Town Designation. To celebrate this important designation the City of White Cloud and the River Country Chamber of Commerce hosted the Annual Trail Town in September of 2015 in the White Cloud Campground/Park. That event was a success and we committed to developing the trail and White Clouds brand image as a trail town with a “Trail for Every Season” along with associated local and regional recreational and economic opportunities the trails bring.
In early spring members from White Cloud, the River Country Chamber of Commerce and Newaygo County form the Trail Town Celebration event committee and collaborate to raise money to fund the annual event, We enlist sponsors and host the Celebration with activities and events that are fun, and focus on the NCT and feature local recreational and business opportunities. This year we have new events that are sure to be home runs with the folks in White Cloud and the larger recreational community.
Friday September 29th is also homecoming for White Cloud and we have partnered with Boomerang to host the Friday events including a great Tailgate Party. The Friday festivities begin at 4:00 PM with Pre Party Food followed by the Homecoming Parade starting at 5:30 PM and the Tailgate Party from 6:00 to 10:00 PM. For the Party Participants there will be live music by the immensely popular Braunschweiger Blues Band guaranteed to get you up dancing and having fun.
This year’s food vendors will be the returning favorite Old Iron Grill bringing you their succulent smoked BBQ, and new for this year, Two Hot Tamales with tasty Mexican menu items, and owner Rita Rodriguez’s special tamales. The Beer Tent will be open from 6:00 until 10 PM. Friday evening’s fun in the Park for the younger and older kids includes face painting, scavenger hunts, wagon rides, super spooky Haunted Hallow, a warming fire and marshmallows all free of course. Friday night events will focus on hometown folks, with the Braunschweiger Blues Band, good food and beverages and kids activities all guaranteeing a good time in our local Park.
Saturday’s events focus on the NCT, our beautiful White River and the recreational opportunities they bring to our community. The festivities begin at 7:30 AM with the traditional Knights of Columbus breakfast follow shortly with same day registrations and the kick off of our trail activities. At 8:30 AM the gun sounds for those who like an early morning workout.
First up and new this year is the 10 mile trail run, followed by the 10K run. The route for these two runs is a loop that begins in the White Cloud Campground/Park travels along the beautiful NCT as it passes through the National Forest over Rattlesnake Creek and back. The maples along the route should be in full color. The very popular 5K run and walk begins in the Campground/Park and follows the interesting High School cross country trail down along the White River ending in the Campground/Park. Also new for this year, a one mile dog walk that begins in the Campground/Park goes down along the White River and back.
Another new event is the Duck Race that will kick off at 8:30 AM in the White Cloud Rotary Park along the White River. This event is strongly recommended promising high entertainment and a chance to win significant cash prizes. It will be well worth the price of the ticket to watch our new and very personable County Administrator Chris Wren wearing his duck suit wrangle the flock of small yellow ducks along the race course.
The White River Kayak race and paddle that is appropriate for all skill levels will follow at 11:30 AM starting from the same spot and continuing for three miles along the sparkling White River ending at the Flowing Wells Park take out.
For those looking for other activities on Saturday will find an abundance of entertaining and interesting choices. Expert hikers, naturalist and the trail maintenance crew members from the Western Michigan Chapter of the NCTA will be on hand to discuss the North Country Trail and all aspect of hiking, trail building and maintenance. Starting at 10:00 AM they will lead two interpretative hikes along various sections of the Connector Trail and the NCT. The folks from the Huron-Manistee National Forest Baldwin District Ranger Station mentioned that Smokey the Bear will again make an appearance this year.
The Long Beard Chapter of the Wild Turkey Federation will have a BB gun gallery for those interested in safe gun handling and target practice. There will be an agent from the Department of Natural Resources demonstrating survival skills like shelter building, fire making and compass reading. And for the kids the traditional favorites, rock painting, wagon rides to the frightful Haunted Hollow and marshmallow roasting around the campfire.
The vendor and craft displays and Beer Tent will open from 10:00 AM to 10:00 PM with Old Iron Grill and Two Hot Tamales on duty to provide delightful dishes to the hungry. This year Boomerang will host a Saturday afternoon Chili cook-off and tasting, so drag out your world famous chili recipe that you have been bragging about and get in there and compete. On Saturday the live entertainment lineup includes: 11am-1pm Jerry Arlen Jones local music composer/producer, songwriter. 1pm-2:30pm Dennie Middleton - fun laid back playing the classics and his original music, 3pm-4:30pm The Pryer Sisters local talented sisters playing folk/gospel, 4:30pm-6pm Sandi Bernard a local musical treasure, and6:00pm-10pm The Denise Anderson Connection - One of West Michigan's most popular Country and Classic Rock 'n Roll bands bringing something for all her fans and visitors alike.
Whether looking to reconnect with old friends, good food and entertainment, exposure to the North Country Trail, a medal-winning run or paddle, or a fast rubber duck, this is your event. Put the leash on the puppy dogs, gather the kids and put your hiking or dancing shoes on and come and experience an ole fashion community event in a great outdoor location on a lovely fall weekend.
For additional information and event forms or to volunteer go to the River Country Chamber of Commerce events page: http://www.rivercountrychamber.com/event-trailtown-celebration
For those wishing to camp at the White Cloud Park that weekend you can go to the Newaygo County Parks and Recreation page and reserve your site: http://www.countyofnewaygo.com/ParksAndRecreation.aspx.
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