Cluster Springs Volunteer Fire Department’s 8th Annual Trail Ride Fundraiser is set for Saturday morning starting at 10:30 a.m.

The trail ride is the fire department’s main fundraiser of the year.

“People always comment on how much they love the trail. People come from all over – Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, sometimes even from Tennessee – for the trail ride,” said Chris Hudson, chief of the Cluster Springs Volunteer Fire Department. “We provide camping for the trail riders. They can set up their horses and trailers on the campsite Friday night. We’ll have DJ Slim that night playing music for them to listen to.”

Trail ride participants have the option of pre-registering on the Cluster Springs Volunteer Fire Department’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/CSVFD7) or registering Friday evening at the gate at 1168 Cluster Springs Road, South Boston. The gate opens at 5:30 p.m.

“The trail is 11 ½ miles and starts on the property of Sammy Watts. Once the riders make it back to the campsite, we provide them with a barbecue supper, and we’re going to have a live band – Jeb & The Steel Young Band out of Virgilina,” Hudson said.

Aside from those participating in the trail ride, folks are welcome to come out to the fire department’s fundraiser for Saturday evening’s dinner and entertainment, at a cost of $15. The cost of the trail ride, weekend entertainment and dinner is $25 for adults, and $15 for children age 12 and under.

Primitive camping is available Friday through Sunday.

The volunteer fire department is in dire need of the funds raised from the trail ride this year because of having to cancel other smaller fundraisers throughout the year because of COVID-19.

“With the COVID-19 restrictions, we have had to pull the plug on much-needed community fundraisers that provided the revenue to keep things running. We have had to cancel other events such as stews that generally raise $1,300 to $1,400 each,” explained Mike Harris, public relations coordinator for the Cluster Springs Volunteer Fire Department, in an email sent to The Gazette providing details of the fundraiser. “The annual trail ride generates over $10,000 on average each year. Last year we had 188 riders, and we hope to see that number continue to grow with a good turn out this year.” 

Hudson stated the fire department receives an operational budget from the county each year, but it is not enough to cover all the department’s expenses, which include the cost of insurance, fuel for the fire trucks and equipment.

“If we don’t have this fundraiser, we won’t be able to keep the doors open. This is ‘make it or break it’ for us,” Hudson said. He added the fire department purchased an ambulance last year, and he would like to have the funds to keep the ambulance “up and running.” The fire chief’s eventual goal is to have the department staffed with paid members on the EMS side, because 90% of the department’s calls are EMS calls.

Harris provided further information about the Cluster Springs Volunteer Fire Department in his email. The fire department runs an average of 200 fire and medical calls per year, and has about 20 active members and a dozen additional support members that help with fundraisers and other administrative needs.

Miranda Baines is a staff writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at mbaines@gazettevirginian.com.

Miranda Baines is a staff writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at mbaines@gazettevirginian.com.