September 13, 2013
Dating back to 2005, a partnership between the B&O Trail Association and Natural Valley Ranch has meant increased awareness and a lot of funding for the B&O Trail. Similar to the Monon Trail, the B&O Trail converts a no-longer used railroad bed into a fitness trail. However, the B&O Trail will be unique in that “it will have a horse riding trail parallel to the bike/walk/hike trail” says Karen Humphreys, B&O Trail Association Board Member. The inclusion of the horseback riding trail is part of why Natural Valley Ranch got involved according to Marie Damler, who co-owns Natural Valley Ranch with her husband, Chuck. “It made so much sense for us to partner with and support the B&O Trail,” says Marie, “not only will they have a horseback riding trail, but the B&O Trail will go right through our Ranch.”
So far, the B&O Trail (minus the horse path) from the Marion County/Hendricks County line to State Road 267 is almost complete. When it’s finished, the trail will extend across Hendricks County to North Salem, Ind. Unfortunately, the completion of the trail doesn’t have a projected date because of the funding that is involved. “As we get money through grants and donations we extend across Hendricks County… that’s where Natural Valley Ranch has really helped,” says Humphreys. “Without the Ranch, the B&O would not have had the facility to hold the benefit equestrian ride.” she concludes.
“The Ranch staff and volunteers are really excited about the changes we are making for this year’s event,” says Damler. While the rides over the past 8 years have raised approximately $10,000 for the B&O Trail according to Humphreys, the plans for this year’s event really take the efforts to a new level. The one-day event with various ride times throughout the day has been completely revamped and expanded to a two-day festival. The “Happy Trails Fall Fest” benefits the B&O Trail Association and offers something for everyone, from little buckaroos to the most seasoned rider.
Festivities begin at 6 p.m., Friday, Sept. 27 with registration for those participating in both days of the event. Of course, in Natural Valley Ranch tradition, there will be bon fires for open air cooking and limited overnight camping is available (advanced reservations are required for camping). At 8 p.m. the evening kicks into high gear with Indy’s own “Pissed Off Catfish,” a country, bluegrass and blues band and there will be plenty of room to dance the night away. Guests can enjoy a tractor-pulled hayride at 10 p.m. and participate in a midnight trail ride through the nearly 75 acres of Natural Valley Ranch.
Saturday morning begins bright and early with registration for those participating in the numerous activities and equestrian clinics throughout the day. Marry Marrow of RideSafe2Day will be one of the experts on hand teaching the clinics and providing demonstrations. A campfire breakfast will surely get your day started right and the campfire lunch will keep you going throughout the afternoon. Kids are sure to get excited after lunch when they can visit the petting zoo, go on pony rides and participate in fishing at the lake (catch-and-release only). Trail rides will be offered throughout the day either on the horses from Natural Valley Ranch or for horsemen and women who bring their own. An obstacle course rounds out the afternoon with plenty of prizes to be awarded later in the day!
For those who fancy themselves experts at cooking a big pot of chili over a campfire, there’s a campfire chili cook-off and dinner with cornbread and s’mores. Prizes for the chili cook-off and the obstacle course will be awarded Saturday evening and you must be present to win.
All events for the Happy Trails Fall Fest benefit the B&O Trail Association. Reservations are required for overnight camping. Fees vary for the event and you can get more information and register online at NaturalValleyRanch.com/familyfun.html
Natural Valley Ranch is located in scenic Hendricks County at 6310 E. County Road 350 N. in Brownsburg (just off of 267 between Brownsburg and Avon). A family-owned and operated facility, Natural Valley Ranch prides itself on being a family-friendly ranch. For more information on the Happy Trails Fall Fest or Natural Valley Ranch, visit NaturalValleyRanch.com or call 317.852.6615