Tom Sawyer State Park
considered a little known jewel
Park race series kicks off
at eastern Louisville facility
Helen E. McKinney
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (February 2007) Many year-round
recreational opportunities are offered at E.P. Tom Sawyer
State Park. With such a large majority of runners in the Louisville
area, the park is playing host to the Goose Creek 5K on Feb. 24.
This race is the first leg of the third annual Kentucky State Park Race
Series, scheduled for 2007. Tom Sawyer is participating
to show that the park is more oriented toward being a state
park, and not a metro park, said Program Service Supervisor
by Helen McKinney
BMX track is only one of the
amenities offered to visitors at the park,
located just off Westport Road.
Many people do not realize the park is a state park, said
Park Manager Chris Head. It is the only state park in Jefferson
County. Head cites an abundance of wildlife in the park, marking
it as a wildlife nature preserve in the middle of sprawling urbanism.
The race series is an opportunity for Head to promote the site as a
state park and all the amenities that come with this. Registration will
be held the day of the race from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m., with the race
beginning at 9:30 a.m.
Runners of all ages can take part in these races for a chance to capture
the overall championship based on a point system. Other race locations
are Burkesville, Glasgow, Taylorsville and Leitchfield. Prizes will
be awarded in several categories, and participants who run in all five
races will receive a certificate and eligibility for a special giveaway
The goal of this race series is to draw people to our state parks,
said Shawn Pickens, Special Events Coordinator for the state of Kentucky.
New and existing events provide opportunities for families to enjoy
the state park system, he said.
The idea is to keep the series close to the interstate corridor, said
Pickens, to make it easier for participants to travel to all five races
if they choose to do so. In this case, the locations are close to the
Relying on events such as the race series, Head plans to make E.P. Tom
Sawyer a gateway to other state parks, he said. He wants
to showcase the historical and cultural aspects of Kentuckys park
E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park contains 550 acres located in
the Freys Hill area of Louisville. Land was acquired from the former
Kentucky Central State Hospital and the Cardinal Treatment Center to
create the state park.
Open since 1971, the park was named for Republican statesman
Erbon Powers Tom Sawyer. Born in Metcalf County in 1915,
Sawyer was a University of Louisville Law School graduate. He held the
position of Jefferson County Judge-Executive and was killed in a car
accident in 1969 on I-64 while still in office.
He left behind a wife, Jean Dunagan Sawyer, and two daughters, Linda
and Lila Diana.
Lila Diana is better known as Diane Sawyer, ABC co-anchor of Good
Morning America and Prime Time. Her mother still visits
the park quite often, said Head.
Heads attachment to the state park began while he was growing
up near the park and as he worked there while attending college. He
worked at the state park as a recreational leader from 1995 to 2000.
I love parks, said Head, 31. He has spent the last six years
in Frankfort as an Event Coordinator Supervisor for the Department of
Parks. He also co-chaired the group that planned the Oct. 7-8, 2006,
Battle of Perryville re-enactment. He has been responsible for overseeing
special events at state parks, aquatic programs and facilities, recreational
programs and supervising recreation staff.
He wants to promote E.P. Tom Sawyer State Parks educational
and natural programming, in addition to showcasing its other amenities
that include: an Olympic-size pool, fitness and nature trails, gymnasium,
tennis courts, BMX track, soccer and softball fields.
The state park hosts several big events throughout the
year. The Senior Olympics, collegiate cross-country races, Run for the
Rawhide (for dogs and their owners), and the Irish Classic 10K Run.
Park staff is always looking for volunteers to greet runners at the
finish line, hand out water and fruit, and help distribute awards, said
The 14th Annual Irish Classic 10K Run will be held on Saturday, March
3. The race begins at 9 a.m. and pre-registered participants receive
a T-shirt. The fee for the race is $15 if registered by Feb. 24. Prizes
will be awarded to the overall male and female winners and first and
second place finishers of each age group.
In conjunction with this race, the state park will be hosting the Irish
Classic Health Fair from 9 to 11 a.m. on March 3. The health fair is
intended to provide health information and services to race participants
and all who are present.
For more information, contact the Parks
Recreation Department at (502) 429-7270. Race registration forms are
available at: www.parks.ky.gov.
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