Celebrating our Trails community event is set for Friday

On Friday, our community will be celebrating the completion of a number of trails and connections in the Fort Dodge area. The event will begin at 6:15 p.m. at the Riverfront Trail at the former Sun Kissed Meadows with a brief ribbon cutting ceremony.

Following the ribbon cutting, a Family Bike Ride and Pedal Power Poker Ride will begin.

The five-mile family bike ride with scavenger hunt will go from the starting point to Loomis Park and back. Also starting at 6:30 p.m., the Pedal Power Poker Ride will be a 20-mile or 27-mile ride. Riders can choose to ride to either Rogers Sports Complex or Kennedy Park. There will be music, food and prizes to help make this a fun event for people of all ages.

At 8:30 p.m. the Firefly 5K event will begin. The trail for this three-mile course will be lined with glowing luminaries. Participants are urged to put on a glow and wear glow materials or reflective clothing. There will be prizes for the brightest male and female, brightest group and brightest stroller.

We have a great deal to celebrate this Friday. Great trail systems don’t just happen. They need the support of many voices. Trails are a critical part of building a bright future for Fort Dodge. Trails mean healthy communities, connected neighborhoods, active families and enjoyable recreation. This $6.7 million project is a culmination of funding support from private individuals and businesses, state grants, federal Greenbelt funds, the city of Fort Dodge and the Webster County Board of Supervisors.

Communities all across America have found that good, well-maintained trails can promote safe and livable communities. Trails add character to a community and reinforce a community’s desirability as a place to live, work and play. Trails encourage people to enjoy the great outdoors and embrace activity. Good trail systems will increase recreational opportunities in communities because residents use the trails for recreational biking, hiking, and running, and in the winter, cross country skiing. Trails are also valued for their ability to connect people with places and to nature itself. They provide safe and enjoyable access to nature areas, parks, green spaces, rivers, lakes and other recreational venues. Often, a community’s trail system can provide a sense of place and a source of community pride while serving as an indicator of the community’s investment in health, vitality and quality of life.

The current trail system in Fort Dodge has seen a large increase in usage by individuals of all ages and families. Users can be seen walking, jogging and biking daily on the Fort Dodge and Webster County Trail System. With more than 20 miles of trails, the trail system currently connects seven parks, three schools and the riverfront. It serves as an illustrious showcase to visitors to our area and a source of pride for our community.

Even though we are celebrating the completion of Phase 1 of our trail system, the Trails Advisory Board continues to work in partnership with the city of Fort Dodge and Webster County with ongoing development of our trail system. This includes adding additional trail connections that will expand access to our trail system. Planning also continues for additional expansion of trails along the Des Moines River with more connections to parks and other venues around our region.

The community is invited to come down to the riverfront at Sun Kissed Meadows on Friday and participate in all of the fun activities. The event is for families and people of all ages. We hope you will join us in walking, running or biking our trails and then come back and enjoy the food, music and fun.

For more information on the Fort Dodge Trail System or the Celebration of Trails event contact Webster County Conservation, 576-4258, the Fort Dodge Parks and Recreation Department, 576-7237 or the Fort Dodge Community Foundation, 573-3171.

Matt Cosgrove is the Webster County Conservation director. Randy Kuhlman is chief executive officer of the Fort Dodge Community Foundation and United Way.