SENECA - Every year, there’s a large event in mid-July that brings the entire Seneca community together and this year that event will take on a special significance.
That’s right! It’s the 25-year anniversary of the Ridge and Valley Rally scheduled for Saturday, July 14, 2018.
The event is still very similar to that first Ridge and Valley Rally held 25 years ago.
“The idea was to have a community event for local people to get together and bring the kids and it wouldn’t cost a lot of money,” according to Owen DuCharme who was one of many who helped organize the first Ridge and Valley Rally.
“That first one was a huge success,” DuCharme recalled. “It has gotten smaller, but there’s still a good crowd.”
The Seneca Community Club organizes the Ridge and Valley Rally. The group has also gotten a bit smaller over the years. DuCharme remembers when the club had upwards of 20 members.
“Over the years, some of them have passed on and others have moved away,” the retired feed mill operator explained. “It’s tough to get young people involved. They’re so busy with their families and other organizations now.”
In addition to bringing local people together for the day, the Ridge and Valley Rally serves another purpose for the Community Club. The event serves as a fundraiser for the club. The money raised at the Ridge and Valley Rally is given back to the community in a variety of ways. For instance, the Seneca Community Club provides flowers for planters, offers scholarships for local students and supports the Seneca Volunteer Fire Department and the Seneca First Responders. In the last few years, the club has also put on a Christmas Dinner.
King and Queen
Ron and Julie have been selected the King and Queen of the 2018 Ridge and Valley Rally.
Ron has lived in Seneca since 1976. Julie has lived in Seneca and Prairie du Chien her entire life.
The Hartleys have been married for 34 years. They have four children and eight grandchildren.
The couple have farmed in the Seneca area for all of their married life. Julie also works full time off the farm at Rural Insurance.
Both have volunteered at many community events, including the Ridge and Valley Rally, for a number of years. The Hartley family was instrumental in bringing the antique tractor pull to the event.
Ron is a member of the Seneca Fire Department and First Responders. The Hartleys are also active members of St. Patrick's Catholic Church. In their spare time, they enjoy spending time with family and fishing.
All the fun
So what happens at the Ridge and Valley Rally? Well, there’s a little bit of everything and that all starts with the 10K-5K Run-Walk at 7:30 a.m.
The Run-Walk is celebrating its own 10-year anniversary this year and there are hopes for a big turnout. Over the years, the event has gained a group of hardcore supporters, according to Myrna Stevenson, the contact person for the event.
“The Run-Walk got started because people in the community were actively running and we decided to have an event like Gays Mills with the Apple Festival Run,” Stevenson explained. “We just thought it would be a nice addition (to the Ridge and Valley Rally).”
Myrna’s son Zach Stevenson was instrumental in getting the Run-Walk started. There were 62 participants the first time it was held. The largest number entered in the Run-Walk was 99 in 2010. There were 77 entered last year.
The first, second and third place finishers in both the men and women’s divisions of the 5K and 10K race receive awards. There are also awards for the youngest and oldest participants.
Myrna Stevenson, like many of the longtime participants, has watched an evolution of runners and walkers over the years. Many started as kids in strollers or wagons or even backpacks. Now, they’re seven or eight years old and they’re running or walking the distance.
It’s a pretty relaxed race and one of the girls hoofing it for the first time recently stopped along the way to pet a horse. It’s that kind of ‘race’ for a lot of the participants.
While the weather has co-operated pretty well for most of the 10 years, the Run-Walk was held in the rain once.
“Everybody was drenched, but nobody complained,” Myrna remembered.
A fixture of the event is Jim Uglum who participates every year and jokes about his lack of speed.
And, there are some senior citizens including several people in their 70s who have participated.
Myrna urged everybody to sign up early. The fee is $10 for an adult and $5 for those 12 and under until a week before the event, when the charge is $15 for all ages. Participants get t-shirts on a first-come-first-serve basis until they run out. This year, the t-shirt features the 10-year anniversary.
So sign up early by going to senecarally.weebly.com and clicking on the Run-Walk. A registration form can be filled out online. Anyone with questions can contact Myrna Stevenson by calling 608-734-3650 or emailing email@example.com
The race will begin at approximately 7:30 a.m. between the two ball
fields on Taylor Ridge Road. Registration takes place between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m.
The 2017 R&V Winners
1. Todd Komplin 44:54
2. Adam Froemming 50:57
10-K Run Women
1. Taylor Boland 52:13
2. Kathryn Miller 52:33
3. April Komplin 55:54
1. Benedict Gallagher 18:22
2. Brandon Lee 18:51
3. Dominic Carstens 20:42
1. Helen Carstens 22:10
2. Tara Adams 24:19
3. Sarah Bransky 24:35
Youngest Participant Clareen Kriel
Of course the biggest event at the Ridge and Valley Rally is probably the parade, which starts at 11 a.m. and runs down Highway 27. There are lots of entrants in the parade, but the line of classic tractors at the end is pretty impressive. It seems like it might be a half-mile long, when you look up the road.
Following the parade, there’s a very popular smoked pork chop dinner in the Seneca Town Hall. The lunch stand in the shop area is also open for the day.
“The older folks like the pork chop dinner,” DuCharme said. “It let’s them go into the air conditioning and visit.”
For the last five or six years, there is a pie auction following the dinner at 1 p.m. and it has greatly helped in raising money for the Seneca Community Club. Don’t miss it.
Also at 1 p.m., the antique tractor pull gets underway.
At 4 p.m., there is a Euchre Tournament in the town hall and a Bean Bag Tournament outside.
Anyone wanting to play Euchre should sign up about a half hour before it starts. There’s a $6 fee and the participants are reminded to bring quarters for Euchre.
The Bean Bag Tournament has replaced the horseshoe tournament and is proving very popular with people of all ages, according to DuCharme.
And if that’s not enough there’s a volleyball tournament and little league baseball games to watch throughout the day.
The volleyball tournament has been a fixture of the Ridge and Valley Rally for all 25 years. To learn more people can contact Dawn Ray at 734-3232 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Prairie Sand and Gravel Team, under the direction of Doug Heisz, has been in the volleyball tournament every year since the Ridge and Valley Rally started. They have also won the tournament on quite a few occasions.
In the last eight years, the Garfoot family team has also become pretty dominant, according to Ray.
While the volleyball tournament has never been cancelled, it was played in the rain one year.
Yes, there’s definitely something for everyone at the Ridge and Valley Rally in Seneca on July 14. So, don’t miss a chance to celebrate the event’s 25-year anniversary, while catching up with neighbors and friends. See you there!