What happens when you put 257 Jeeps, trucks and SUVs, 286 ATVs and dirt bikes and about 1,000 people together for a day at an off-road park? You get the 2 nd Annual Rockport Off Road Park’s New Years Day Ride. This year’s installment included a free hot meal, bonfires in the parking lot, complimentary hot chocolate, a scavenger hunt with prizes and unlimited access to the park’s 1600 acres of trails and the infamous rock garden.
With support and sponsorship from Reuther’s Chrysler Jeep in St.Louis and George's Kawasaki in Bowling Green, park owners and operators Tom and Debbie Wombles put on a fantastic event this year. In fact, turnout was more than double that of last year.
When the gates opened at 9am, a line of off-road enthusiasts stretched from the park gate all the way down the access road, all eager to join in the fun. The weather was fair and a cool 38 degrees when the park opened and warmed up to 47 by mid-afternoon. With rain threatening, the patrons signed in and hit the trails for the morning before grouping back at the parking lot for a complimentary hot meal of pork barbeque, beans, chips and a warm cup of hot chocolate. The break also afforded an opportunity to turn in any of the Tall Dog scavenger hunt markers for a bevy of prizes.
Back on the trails in the afternoon, off-roaders enjoyed the park before the rain finally set in, turning the Pike County clay into a slick and difficult slime.
Tom Wombles said, “We've heard so many ‘Good Samaritan Off-Roader’ stories that involved strangers stopping to lend a hand or even spending hours and hours helping out fellow off-roaders. ATVs, dirt bikes, and all makes of 4WD vehicles assisted each other and respected each other.”
As the day wound down, trailers were loaded and tires aired up, the park was full of smiles and stories of the day. A great time was had by all, and with the stunning turnout this year we can only hope that there is a 3rd Annual New Years Day Ride next year at Rockport Off Road Park.
“My husband, Tom and I have made a lot of sacrifices and put a lot of hard work into Rockport Off-Road Park,” said Debbie Wombles. “Yet everyday we consider it a great privilege to be a part of such an amazing thing as the off-roading community.”
Rockport Off Road Park is open Friday through Monday 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, and is located 2 miles North of Jct. Highway 54 and 96, just outside of Rockport Illinois.
For more information on the park and scheduled events, visit www.rorp.com or call 217-437-JEEP(5337)
Todd Moore is a staff writer for Rockcrawler.com.
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