RUTLAND — It’s that time of year again, time to turn a hayfield outside of Rutland into one of the biggest fundraisers in Meigs County - the 16th Annual St. Jude Saddle Up Trail Ride and Fun Day at the Dill Farm.
The event, which happens Saturday, Sept. 17 at the Dill Farm at 34843 Beech Grove Road, raises funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and over the years has raised nearly $125,000 for that organization. The ride starts at noon so get there early to register - there is no cost to participate though donations to St. Jude are appreciated. Last year’s ride had a record 288 registered riders and raised $21,333 for the research hospital that turns no child away.
The St. Jude Saddle Up Trail Ride and Fun Day at the Dill Farm has become an unofficial tourist attraction in Meigs County. It’s a day of riding trails through the countryside, camping, free food and, of course, all those prize drawings. This year, Isabel Dill, fundraiser organizer, said a four-month old registered Paint Filly has been donated to the ride and will be up for grabs as part of a prize drawing. In addition, a three-tier saddle stand, saddle and two sets of saddle bags are being given away through prize drawings and other contests - in fact, a saddle will be given away to the person who travels the furthest with their horse to the trail ride.
The event, which began as an idea by Isabel and husband Michael, has grown into a major event run solely by volunteers so 100 percent of proceeds go directly to St. Jude. The community has stepped up in other ways as well, donating prizes and other items right down to the hog for the hog roast and bean dinner - this year one hog was donated by Farmers Bank, the other from Racine Home National Bank.
Another great thing about the trail ride, it’s free, all of it. A family can arrive at the Dill Farm with their horses and spend the day riding trails through the picturesque countryside of Rutland Township without being charged a dime for anything. This year there are two new trails riders will be taking to eliminate the need to cross roadways though the ride is still about 10 miles, with an intermission/break halfway through it - refreshments are provided during the break. After the ride, visitors are treated to supper and some will even spend the night in the hayfield, along with their horses - again, at no extra charge. Water will be provided, if needed for horses, and restroom facilities will also be on the site.
The St. Jude Saddle Up Trail Ride began 15 years ago and raised just over $2,000 that first year but has continued to grow without any official help from any formal group or sponsor. The Dills pull off the event every year with the help of neighbors, friends and local businesses who volunteer time, effort, food and door prizes. The event takes a lot of planning and hard work but Isabel always maintains it’s worth it and Mike has said seeing the kids the hospital treats, some who are terminally ill, puts life into perspective and makes worrying about insignificant things like car payments, well, insignificant.
Once again, ribbons and prizes will be presented to the top three money collectors for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital which has a mission to find cures for children with cancer and other catastrophic diseases through research and treatment. St. Jude has treated children from all 50 states and from around the world. St. Jude is the only pediatric cancer research center where families never pay for treatment not covered by insurance. No child is ever denied treatment because of the family’s inability to pay.
Call 742-2849 for more information on the trail ride.