Friendship Wagon Train rolls into Plainview
By Cheryl Nymann, Editor
Oh, it was an absolutely gorgeous day for the Friendship Wagon Train to be clip- clopping into Plainview. This Wagon Train has been rolling through southeastern Minnesota for well over 20 years, and is done as a fund raiser to assist with camper scholarships at Camp Winnebago located near Caledonia. Camp Winnebago is a non-profit organization dedicated to serving the recreational needs of children with varying abilities & special needs; as well as providing vacation options for adults with developmental disabilities. Last year they raised over $32,000 on their couple weeks long ride.
Before the wagon train rolled into the Plainview Immanuel Lutheran field, they were up bright and early bringing in their tucks and horse trailers at 6:00 a.m. last Wednesday morning. Then, a bus hauled them all back to Eyota where the horses and wagons were at (where they spent the night). That morning, their trip, obviously, began in Eyota, and they had a lunch stop at the Mike and Debbie Sexton home in rural Elgin. The Sextons had their grandkids all lined up in little lawn chairs by the house as all the wagons pulled into their place. After everyone got there, I have it on pretty good authority that the kids absolutely loved interacting with the horses and people that were visiting them for lunch that day!
Later that afternoon, the wagon train pulled into Plainview. Entering Plainview on the west side of town, the wagon train first went by the Senior High Rise, Green Prairie Place, and the Nursing Home where everyone seemed to be outside eagerly awaiting their arrival. Members of the wagon train were friendly as ever waving hello as they went by everyone. After making their way through the back streets, they made it to the field of Immanuel Lutheran, and what gracious hosts they were to allow the wagon train to set up their camp overnight there.
The Plainview Lions Club served up some grilled bratwursts, hot dogs, watermelon, and corn for the riders. On their way back to their trailers, the riders stopped by and visited the boy scouts who ere providing their oh, so very delicious cobblers. Made over an open fire (actually coals) in dutch ovens, the campers should have felt at home with this camp style desert.
Living across the street from the camping site, had its advantages too. Watching different riders interact with youngsters and other visitors tell about their horses and the trail ride was quiet enlightening. Later in the night, the strumming of a guitar and singing could be heard; along with the neighing of horses.
Early that morning when the trucks and trailers left to set up camp at their next overnight stop in Oronoco. But it wasn’t until the next morning at the breakfast table that I found out how generous those wagon train riders really were.
The graciousness of members from Immanuel Lutheran Church continued the following morning, as they prepared and served up breakfast for the riders. Delicious pancakes, sausage and juice was the meal of the morning. And coffee, they all seemed to have their own coffee mugs ready to be filled up. As I sat there at a table was a group of the riders, I found out there were about 100 riders representing eight different states on this ride. The Wagonmaster was actually married on the ride 21 years ago. But even more interesting to me was the fact that there was a gentleman from Missouri who drove by the wagon train in Plainview. He and his trailered were on their way to the Zumbro bottoms to meet up with some riding buddies from Eau Claire that he met on a different trail ride a couple of years ago. This gentlemen turned around stopped in and asked what was happening. His request to join the group was accepted by the Wagonmaster, so he spent the night with the group. He was actually the one who pulled out the guitar and began the singing that very night. One other thing I learned at that breakfast table was that many join this wagon ride because they strongly believe in its’ purpose, something that not all trail or wagon rides have - besides having fun with it. These are some of the most personable, down to earth, and genuinely friendly people.
The intergenerational wagon ride often picks up riders along the way. Some even just ride along for part of a day with them. It was nice to see the youngsters and teenagers on the ride as well. Some are grandchildren, some aren’t, but one thing is for sure, they all enjoy riding, and believe in the cause for it.
At 8:00 a.m on the nose, the Friendship Wagon Train was set to move out, and traveled along Hwy. 247 to their next destination of Oronoco.