Hoofin’ their way to Austin; Friendship Wagon Train rolls into town, raises money for Camp Winnebago
Published 11:15 am Thursday, June 26, 2014
As the distant sound of hoofs clacking on the pavement road became louder Wednesday afternoon at the Mower County Fairgrounds, the excitement of the crowd began to build as they awaited the arrival of the Friendship Wagon Train.
“They’re coming, they’re coming!” seven-year-old onlooker Bryanna Vokoun said excitedly.
18 wagons and 85 people rolled in as they made their stop for the night after a long day on the road. Wagon Master John Davis said he’s never seen a turnout like this in Austin before.
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“This year is the best it’s ever been,” Davis said.
The Friendship Wagon Train began its journey last Saturday in Waseca with 21 wagons and 102 participants in tow. Over the past several days, they have traveled over 50 miles across Minnesota.
“People don’t realize how tiring it is,” Davis said.
Davis estimates $12,000 has been raised so far for Camp Winnebago, a week-long camp for people of all ages with developmental disabilities. However, Davis thinks many people, like himself, are waiting until the last day to reveal how much they’ve collected.
“I like to hold on to what I have, so it’s looking good,” he said.
A large chunk of change came from an auction held Tuesday night in Hollandale, which raised $3,000. Horse supplies, quilts, and gift certificates, among other things, were sold off as part of the fundraiser.
Though it’s been a great ride so far according to Davis, there have still been some difficulties. Due to some of the recent flooding, some campsites for overnight stays had to be switched. There have also been a few issues with some of the horses.
“Besides that, it’s been some great weather,” Davis said.
For Davis, this will be his 28th year as Wagon Master. Though he has said many times in the past he wants to move on from his role, he has yet to do so. However, it’s likely his son will take over soon.
“I don’t want it to end,” Davis said. “Someday I’ll take a different role, but I’ll always be involved with it.”
The journey this year isn’t over yet. Lyle and Adams will be the final two destinations for the Friendship Wagon Train for the 2014 ride.
“Anybody that sees us should come down and donate,” Davis said.
Call 507-365-8064 to get an address on where to donate.