September 22, 2017

THE WAGON TRAIN IN CHAMPION 2017

 


Seth Keller drove Jim and Judy Cantrell’s wagon at the head of the wagon train.

The West Plains Wagon Club and the Gee and Haw Wagon Club of Viola, Arkansas combined to make a wagon train of four for the one hundred mile trip from West Plains to Mansfield. They pulled into Champion on Thursday the 14th a little ahead of schedule and were met by a nice crowd of people who enjoy seeing the teams and wagons. For some it is a novelty and for others it harkens back to the days when that was the way most folks got around. Absent for the second year, the much missed Clifton Luna was spoken of fondly among waggoneers and spectators alike. He was 91 and, for the first time, not quite up for the trip last year. He passed away in October. He was carried to his grave on a mule drawn wagon—just the way he would have wanted with these folks and many others in attendance.

Jim and Judy Cantrell of Norwood were the first ones in the square. Their wagon was driven by young Seth Keller. Judy said he had driven the whole way since they turned off the pavement there at V Highway. Their mules are Long Ears and Patty. Jerry Sanders has a nice driver too–Toni Amison. They are from Norwood and their mules are Sadie and Buttercup. Ken Felts’ mules are Champ and Lady. In years past he and his friend Randal Barnett would double back through Champion afterwards and spend the night on the square on their way back home to Pocahontas, Arkansas. Mr. Barnett has just had back surgery and so was unable to make the trip this year. His Champion friends will be looking for him next time. Harley Wayne Keller drove the wagon of Jerry and Diane Wilbanks all the way from John Webber’s place. Their mules are Kate, RB and Smokey. Diane had good things to say about Harley’s skill and his pleasant demeanor. John Webber said it had been foggy at his place that morning and when he looked out the kitchen window there were mule ears standing up in it—an interesting vision.

They enjoyed a rest stop for lunch and for visiting with the spectators. Among those who came to enjoy the spectacle were Johny Appleseed (he did not say where he was from), Bob Berry of Drury and Mary Goolsby of Gentryville, Butch and Dawn Stone, Arnold Ahlsteadt, Shirley Brixey of Willow Springs, Kaye and Richard Johnston of Licking, Royce and Jody Henson of Springfield, Mark Keller of Drury, John Webber, Sherry Bennett, Lonnie Curtis, Tom Cooley of Mountain Grove, Skip and Ina Downen of West Plains, Alvin Barnhart, Robert Upshaw, Dean Brixey, Fae Krider, Leo Stofer, Jeff Bartsch, Wes Lambert, Dawn Stine, David Richardson and a number of others. Dawn and David brought their instruments and did some nice picking and singing on the wide veranda there on the Historic Emporium. It was a beautiful day for the outing and, as the wagons topped the hill on their way out of town, Champions were already looking forward to next year. It will pass quickly though that leisurely pace of the wagon train tugs at us to slow down and enjoy every passing day here in Champion—Looking on the Bright Side!


Ken Felts of Pocahontas, Arkansas represented the Gee and Haw Wagon Club.


Harley Wayne Keller drove Jerry and Diane Wilbanks’ three up.


The wagon folks are pleased to show off their teams and outfits for the locals.

 


The Wagon Train draws an audience from far and wide.

 


There was ample time for some good visiting.

 

Jerry Sanders and Toni Amiston on their way out of the Square.


Up and over the hill leaving Champions waiting for next year.

Farewell!
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September 22, 2015

2015 Wagon Train

Wagon-Master Coy Stone strolls across the Champion Square with purpose—ice cream.

Resting on the shady banks of Old Fox Creek: Earl Duke’s wagon on the left, the Websters in blue; Jim and Judy Cantrell, and Jerry Sanders wagon with the hay on the back.

Marvin and Nancy Webster have downsized. Here they are in their new rig with Coco and Pete.

Ken Felts trails a spare mule, Champ, another that he has raised.

Judy Cantrell standing, will be leaving the train in Mansfield while the others go on to complete 387 miles in 18 days. Also pictured Ken Felts, Ms. Sanders and Jim Cantrell.

Locals visiting the wagon train are Royce Henson talking with Vernon Crow under the Champion Bee Tree. Joyce Coonts is taking Cowboy Jack’s picture with wagon-master Coy Stone.

Randall Barnet belongs to four other wagon and riding clubs in addition to the West Plains Wagon Club and the Gee Haw Club of Viola, Arkansas.

Chief, Lady and Amos pulling us up the hill. Up ahead is Vernon Crow, Randall Barnet and Coy Stone in the lead.

Earl Duke waves good bye. He has this wagon borrowed from Coy Stone who built it. Earl is using this one until Coy gets one built for him. This is his third year on this ride.

The Websters bring up the drag. Good bye for another year. Happy trails!

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September 30, 2014

2014 West Plains Wagon Club Trail Ride

On the Square

 

Wagon Master Clifton Luna leads the West Plains Wagon Club out of Champion.

Mr. Luna’s wagon is followed by Jerry and Diane Wilbanks with their extra mule trailing behind. Jerry and Diane have the only white mules on the train this year. One of the white mules had a severe accident last year, but with the help of their granddaughter, Candice, they were able to nurse the animal through its injury.

Jerry and Bonnie Arnold follow the Wilbanks out of the Champion Square. Their beautiful sorrel mules are well matched.

The Arnolds lead Jim and Judy Cantrell.

The Cantrells lead Ken Felts. Ken has a nicely matched three up pulling his vinyl covered wagon.

Randal Burnet has a three up pulling his big wagon.

Coy Stone’s is the last wagon out of the Champion Square.

With Candice Summer and Nate Williams riding drag, the train goes up and over the hill on the way to Cold Springs and then on to rest for the night. Good bye!
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September 21, 2009

West Plains Wagon Club – 2009

        Champion is a bright spot in the world.  There is no denying it.  The West Plains Wagon Club got wet every day of their trip until Thursday.  On Thursday as they came to Champion, the sun came out.  Eleven wagons’ worth of teamsters and passengers and 21 horseback riders will be pleased to say that Champion was the Bright Spot of their week long ride from West Plains to Mansfield.  Clifton Luna has headed up this ride since the late 1980’s.  He is 84 and shows no signs of slowing down.  There were quite a few children on this trip.  The youngest was Breanna Webster, two years old, traveling with her Grandparents Nancy and Marvin Webster of Bloomfield, MO.  Granddad, Don Breauchy of Vanzant enjoyed the company of his 10-year-old grandson, Jeffrey Bingham.  Gary Carter’s grandsons, Trent and Trevor, were also out of school for a couple of days getting life experience and education in the saddle.  There were several new to this ride this year and sadly, some missing who have made it every year.  Don Crawford of Salem, Arkansas, passed away this year.  He had made this ride every time.  He also headed up a ‘no-shuttle’ ride in the spring and the fall every year.  That ride was generally about 100 miles and participants had to bring all their own food, feed, and gear for the trip as they had no support on the trail.  Several different folks remarked on his absence on Thursday.  A number of Champions were on hand to enjoy the spectacle of the wagon train.  Upshaws came from as far away as Mountain Grove and Vanzant, and Wisemans came from Marshfield.  Foster and Kalyssa enjoyed some time in the saddle though their feet are still a long way from the stirrups.  One of the muleskinners was heard to say how much they all appreciate having the spectators come out to see them when they come to Champion.  “It is a real highlight for us,” he said.

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September 22, 2008

West Plains Wagon Club – 2008

Champions and citizens of neighboring communities turned out in numbers to greet the West Plains Wagon Club as it passed through Champion in central Douglas County on Thursday, September 18, 2008.  The wagon train was on its annual trail ride from West Plains to Mansfield.  This year there were twelve wagons on the train when it pulled into Champion and there were about twenty-five accompanying outriders.  From year to year the numbers vary but the welcome is always warm and friendly in Champion.  Under the direction of 83 year-old Wagon Master Clifford Luna, the wagon train left West Plains on Monday morning.  They routinely make about twenty miles a day and stop at predetermined camp-sites.  On Thursday they camped at the Black Gate Farm just north of Skyline.  They arrived in Mansfield on Friday with few incidents to report.  A couple of outriders were thrown from their horses—one, when it was spooked by a motorcycle, and another when someone in a pickup suddenly opened a door and yelled.  The riders were not seriously injured and the trip overall was a pleasant one.  Luna and the West Plains Wagon Club will enjoy more rides this year, but Champions will have to wait until next year to see them rolling through the community again.

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