By LOIS KINDLE
Two common resolutions people make for the new year are to spend more time outdoors and share quality time with family and friends.
If you’re one of these folks, the upcoming, poker-themed, Ride/Hike/Paddle at the Little Manatee River State Park is a perfect opportunity to do both. The Jan. 21 fundraiser is a day of fun, food and great adventure for anyone who enjoys hiking, horseback riding, kayaking or canoeing, and it all takes place in the park’s beautiful, old-Florida surroundings.
“This is a great event for everyone,” said Cathy Moore, longtime park supporter and horse enthusiast. “It’s an opportunity to support our community’s only state park and its programs. We look forward to seeing lots of people turn out to make this fundraiser a great success.”
Sponsored by the Friends of the Little Manatee River State Park, ACE Hardware Riverview, Wolfe’s Born to Ride, Canoe Outpost and Florida State Parks, this year’s Ride/Hike/Paddle will kick off between 9 and 11 a.m. for hikers and riders at the park’s event field, 215 Lightfoot Road, Wimauma. Canoeists and kayakers will begin their treks at the same time nearby at the Canoe Outpost, 18001 U.S. 301 S.
Whether on foot, horseback or paddling the waters of the Little Manatee River, participants each get a map marked with five different locations, where buckets containing sealed envelopes are located with playing cards in them. They’ll take one envelope at each spot, complete the route and bring all five unopened envelopes back to the event field by 1:30 p.m. There, before judges, they’ll reveal the card in each envelope and make the best poker hand they can from the five cards they collected.
Anyone missing a card can draw one at the judges’ table. To improve a hand, extra cards can be purchased for $1 each.
The person with the best poker hand wins $100 donated by the Crossroads Ace Hardware at Big Bend.
The cost to participate in the Ride/Hike/Paddle is $25 in advance and $30 the day of the event. It includes park entrance and event entry fees, a nice lunch and drink. Additional meals are available for $8.
The fundraiser will also include Donkey Bingo and a 50/50 drawing.
Per state law, proof of negative Coggins is required for all horses, and children younger than 16 must wear a helmet. Participants can bring their own animals or rent one from Wolfe’s Born to Ride by calling 941-812-1980 and have them brought to the event field the day of the event.
Canoe rentals and shuttle information are available by calling the Canoe Outpost at 813-634-2228.
The Friends of Little Manatee River State Park is a 501(c) 3 charitable organization that promotes the park and its services to the public. In addition to the Hike/Ride/Paddle, the group hosts other annual events at the park, including the Fall Treasure Hunt, moonlight rides and Cowboy Steak Dinner, all of which help pay for park projects or expenses not included in the state budget.
To purchase advance tickets for the Hike/Ride/Paddle or for more information, visit www.friendsofthelittlemanatee.org or call 813-634-2228 or 813-677-9291.