Saturday, September 30th was a perfect day to end Canoemobile’s Trail Creek Week in Michigan City, Indiana with the inaugural Creekness Stakes race. More than 80 people showed up for the competition, which helped raise funds for Trail Creek Week—a five day stretch of place-based learning in Voyageur canoes for more than 1,000 Michigan City area students.
Wilderness Inquiry’s Canoemobile has spent the last week in Northwest Indiana working with local school districts to get kids out on their local waterways in 24-foot Voyageur canoes. While in the boats, the students learned about environmental science, water safety, history, and more. Students also attended interactive learning stations on land facilitated by the Michigan City Sanitary District, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, the Northwest Indiana Paddling Association, and many others.
The Creekness Stakes featured two heats with five Voyageur canoes paddling a 1.25-mile, out-and-back route on Trail Creek. The winning boats from each heat then went head to head in a grand finale. After a neck-and-neck race, the Tryon Farm Institute canoe crossed the finish line first. There were smiles, excitement, and laughter by all participants, spectators, and staff as the winning team claimed the Creeky Cup. “We have never had this many adults in this park before,” said a Michigan City Parks team member about Hansen Park, where the event was held.
The Creekness Stakes was started as a fundraiser by Nicole Messacar, the education coordinator for the LaPorte County Soil and Water Conservation District’s. She was overjoyed with the turnout of this year’s event, which ended up raising $6,200. It’s a solid start for next year. “If we can raise more funds, we can not only sustain what we’ve got but expand, serve more kids, have community paddles, and more,” she said.
As the event wound down, the participants continued to gush about their experience.
“I haven’t had this much fun in a long time!”
“I’m going to be so sore tomorrow. Absolutely worth it though!”
“I can’t wait for next year!”