By Susie Sims
||Ricky Whittemore is steadily preparing to host the Best of America by Horseback in May. His farm offers 75 shaded campsites with water and electric hook-ups.
Ricky Whittemore is working hard getting ready to host the biggest event his business has ever seen. Pumpkin Patch Trail Rides is preparing to host the popular RFD-TV show Best of America by Horseback.
"The Best of America by Horseback is the number one show on RFD-TV," said Whittemore. "We can’t wait for the event."
The three-day event will be held the first weekend in May, May 2-4, on Faye Whittemore Farms located near Jasper in Walker County.
As of mid-April, Whittemore had already booked 65 of his 75 campsites. He noted he has lots of room for primitive camping, though.
Available for participants are the farm’s current 35 miles of trails.
"We are cutting trails on 300 acres every day," said Whittemore. "We will work right up until the ride."
Whittemore also noted he is working to acquire 900 adjoining acres that will provide many more miles of trails. His goal is to have 70 miles of trails for riders to enjoy.
The farm currently is made up of 580 acres with access to 1,600 more acres for riding.
The wooded trails offer side-by-side riding and are smooth enough for any pace, said Whittemore, noting freshwater springs are available throughout the trails. In addition, two ponds are located near the shady campsite.
The farms’ facility is open full-time from February to November, with organized rides being held on the weekends. It includes 75 campsites with water and electric hook-ups, 56 outdoor paddocks, 31 stalls, new bath houses and an entertainment barn.
Whittemore said during special events he has bands who come to entertain the trail riders in the barn.
During trail rides, the farm operates a full kitchen in the concession stand for visitors. When large events are scheduled, like Best of America by Horseback, the Saturday night meal is catered by local restaurants. Jim and Nick’s Barbecue of Jasper will cater the May 3 meal.
Country Horse Fair
In conjunction with the Best of America by Horseback event, Whittemore plans to host a Country Horse Fair.
"On Saturday, we will have activities and vendors here for the riders and visitors," said Whittemore. "We hope to make the fair an annual event."
Some of the wares to be offered by vendors include pony rides, western murals, hand-made furniture and birdhouses.
Some of the event’s sponsors will also have booths at the fair. Handley’s Western Wear, Carl Cannon Chevrolet and Walker Farmers Co-op in Jasper will be on hand for the event.
Vendors interested in a booth for the fair may contact Whittemore at the numbers listed below.
Organized Events Nearly All-Year ‘Round
Whittemore currently hosts five rides each year at the farm. His first event of 2008, which was held the first weekend in March, drew riders from 14 states.
Other rides scheduled for this year include the following weekends: Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day and the first weekend in November.
Besides the annual rides, Whittemore also hosts various benefit and charity rides, including the Children’s Harbor Benefit Ride which will be held on June 6-8.
Whittemore will host the American Trail Ride Association during the fourth weekend in September.
During the month of October, Whittemore’s focus shifts from trail rides to his large pumpkin patch operation.
The pumpkin patch caters to large school groups during the week and is open to the public on Saturdays and Sundays.
"We have been doing the pumpkin patch for 12 years," said Whittemore. "We have many activities for the kids to do."
Those activities include a petting zoo, face painting, moon walk, storytime tent, obstacle course, scarecrow building, hay maze, giant slide, fishing and a hayride to the pumpkin patch.
Whittemore said he began small, attracting only local riders. As word spread, the farm soon found itself hosting riders from across the state.
Now established as a regional attraction, Whittemore is hoping the Best of America by Horseback will put him in a larger arena, so to speak.
"I hope when folks see the show they will want to come here from across the country," said Whittemore. "We would love to have folks come check out our accommodations. We’ll show them a good time."
Not Just Horses and Pumpkins
Even though Whittemore’s main focus is on trail rides and the pumpkin patch, the farm has much more to offer to those people not interested in horses and pumpkins.
"We have people book the farm for all kinds of gatherings," said Whittemore. "We try to accommodate anyone who would like to use our facility.
Whittemore has hosted birthday parties. Church groups and family reunions have often enjoyed the facility.
He has even hosted a couple of weddings at the farm, which is named in honor of his mother.
Whittemore is a loyal customer of the Walker Farmers Co-op in Jasper. Manager Ricky Aldridge said he appreciates good customers like Whittemore.
Persons interested in more information about trail rides or the pumpkin patch may call Ricky Whittemore at 205-221-7557 or 205-522-4137. Visit the farm’s website at www.fayewhittemorefarms.com
for rates and booking information.