WHITE LAKE — It’s time for Bladen County residents to saddle up their steeds and wrangle up some like-minded, horse-loving folks to participate in the third annual Saddle Up for St. Jude Trail Ride, which will take place at Bladen Lakes State Forest on Saturday.
The trail ride will be an all-day ride on the sandy ground — participants can bring their own horses or, for those wishing to participate but not possessing horses, mule-drawn wagons will be available just for riding along.
“It’s a very slow, easy pace,” explained Jo Ann Nunnery, organizer of the event. “We have a trail boss who leads the way, and the trails are really good at Singletary. The soil is sandy, so people don’t have to worry about their horses on pavement, and the trails are broad enough in most places for a vehicle or a team of mules to get through.
“It’s a pretty sight to see the trails lined with horses and wagons as far as you can see,” she added.
Nunnery reported that, while she doesn’t require pre-registration and therefore does not know how many people to expect this year, last year’s ride saw around 150 participants and raised about $3,000. The previous year, however, which was the first year, $1,500 was raised. So, if the same thing happens again this year, the number of participants and the money they bring could very well double again.
“Word’s getting out,” Nunnery stated. “People get on the phone and tell each other, ‘You’ve got to come. It’s a fantastic ride, and the food is good. It’s just a great way to spend the day with your family’ and they really can’t wait until the next year. They keep asking me if I’ll do another ride in the fall, and if it gets bigger, I might just need to have two.”
Even if people don’t want to ride horses or wagons, Nunnery encouraged them to come anyway.
“We’ll have plenty of chairs at the campsite,” she said, “so if people just want to come and hang out, that’s fine.
“I might just find them something to do,” she jested.
Merchants from Wilmington, Whiteville, Elizabethtown, Lumberton and Rocky Point have contributed either money or items for auction and for door prizes. Shirts, duffel bags, and hats will be available for purchase, and all money raised goes to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
The cost for the trail ride is $25 and includes lunch and a ticket for door prizes. Lunch will consist of fried chicken, snap beans, candied yams, hush puppies, rolls, beverages and dessert.
A ferrier will be on site for a question-and-answer session, water will be provided for horses, and no electricity is available.
“We have a really good time. It’s an easy day out in the trails with horses and people of like minds that want to help our children and hopefully knock out some of these cancers that are harming our most precious commodity — our children,” Nunnery said.
The Saddle Up for St. Jude Trail Ride will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Bladen Lakes State Forest on the Singletary Lake Loop Trail Road.
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.