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By Paul Lonardo
Beginning in May, The Smithfield Times challenged its readers to get back to nature and learn the backwoods of their town by visiting seven local walking trails. One location was featured each month, and to make this learning adventure more fun, we proposed that hikers and walkers collect one painted rock from each site and then turn in all seven to win a prize graciously provided by a local business. The articles on the walking trails and this unique scavenger hunt prompted many Smithfield residents to explore these remarkable sites, some for the very first time. Lots of folks found rocks, but only a couple could claim ownership of one from each of the seven locations. In this issue, we are proud to acknowledge the two first place winners.
Rich and Sheri, along with their 3 1/2 year-old son, Max, were familiar with several of the trails prior to learning about the painted rocks contest, but this gave added incentive to go out and visit the remaining sites.
“We looked forward to The Smithfield Times arriving at our house so that we could find out where the painted rocks would be each month,” Rich said. “The added element of looking for the rocks was a great way to teach Max how to slow down, pay attention, and observe his environment during a nature walk.”
They were able to examine a variety of animals and plant life that exists there, as well as discover the history of the land and the importance of preserving these open spaces.
“Our family had a blast participating in this contest,” Rich said. “It was something we were able to do together each month, and how lovely it was that we were able to do it exploring the town that we call home.”
The Huguenin family of Smithfield was the other first place winner, Bobby, Carrie Huguenin and their three children, Caylee, 8, and twins Landon and Sophie, 5. These walks were something they were thankful to able to do as a family, getting away from the television and video games for a little awhile and bonding with each other in nature.
“We didn’t realize how many beautiful hiking trails existed in Smithfield, and minutes from our home.” Carrie said.
The children really enjoyed the experience and would excitedly rush to the mailbox at the beginning of each month to see what trail was featured in the new issue of The Smithfield Times and then beg their parents to take them there so they could find one of the painted rocks.
“I am so very proud of my kids for never giving up and looking forward to each and every month,” Carrie said.
The winning families were given first-class tickets to the Polar Express Train Ride with a gift certificate for lunch.
Whether you were a prize winner or not, everyone was a winner who went out and enjoyed the natural beauty that these seven Smithfield walking trails have to offer. They are all amazing in their own way. Even with this contest over, these trails remain for all to visit and enjoy anytime during the year. Congratulations to the winning families and thank you all for accompanying us on this journey through the Seven Scenic Walks of Smithfield.