PORT, Promoting Outdoor Recreation Trails, of Fort Madison will host an event on Wednesday, June 21, 2023 to celebrate the completion of the Rodeo Connector Trail, the culmination of ten-years of recreational trail creation in Fort Madison. The event will take place at the trailhead located by the entrance to the Tri-State Rodeo grounds from 5-7 p.m. The ribbon cutting ceremony will begin at 5:15 p.m. followed by refreshments and entertainment provided by students from the YMCA Test Kitchen STEM Lounge Band. Wilson Brothers will also be onsite selling their BBQ and Hinterland Dairy treats. The public is invited to attend.
PORT of Fort Madison began in Fall of 2013, when a group of community volunteers came together to brainstorm how to make recreational trails a reality in Fort Madison. The ultimate goal was to improve the physical and economic health of the city with a system of recreational trails to be used by walkers, runners, and bicyclists. PORT of Fort Madison became a subcommittee under the City of Fort Madison Parks and Recreation Board. With seed money from RAGBRAI and Lake Cooper Trails Association, the PORT committee began laying out a multi-year plan to achieve their goal of connecting the City of Fort Madison with a safe trail system.
Phase one, completed in Summer of 2016, connected Ivanhoe Park to Bluff Road. Phase two, followed, intersecting Phase one and connecting to 48th Street. These two arms of the trail system created over a two-mile loop allowing students at the Fort Madison middle school easy access to and from school while also being used for physical education classes. Area businesses, Wellmark Foundation Grants, SIRRC of Fort Madison, Lee County Charitable Fund and other State and Federal Grants provided monetary support for these projects. The annual PORT hosted Spooktacular Boo-athlon also brought together local businesses and individuals to lend support to building trails while enjoying a fun family event.
In 2021, Phase three of the trail system was completed, connecting 48th Street to the hospital. This was also the year PORT received a sizeable monetary donation from the FMCH-GRH Community Health Foundation (now Great River Health Foundation) to complete the Rodeo Connector trail – fulfilling the goal of connecting the city end-to-end. The Rodeo Connector Trail runs from Bluff Road behind Fort Madison High School, up Avenue B to 15th Street – the trail runs along 15th Street all the way to the Tri-State Rodeo grounds. In addition to the Rodeo Connector Trail, the foundation also provided funding for the trail in Riverview Park as part of the marina project.
Beautification and lighting along all phases of the PORT of Fort Madison trails has also been part of the plan of work. The Rodeo Connector trail beautification was completed by Reed’s Landscaping.
“We are so grateful for all of the support we have received from the city, organizations, businesses and individuals over the years helping us realize the dream of a comprehensive trail system in Fort Madison. When we began this journey ten years ago, we believed it would have a positive impact on the lives of those who lived and worked in Fort Madison, but it is so rewarding to actually see people young and old outdoors enjoying the trail. We hope all those who enjoy the trail will join us for our celebration event,” commented Angie Budnik, current PORT Chairperson.
PORT of Fort Madison’s Phase four trail is currently underway – it will connect the end of Phase three at 48th Street to River Valley Road past the Baxter Sports Complex. A strategic planning session held in January laid out the plan for the next five years.
For more information about the upcoming event or to become involved with PORT, visit their Facebook page – PORT of Fort Madison.