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East end playground

E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park
considered a little known jewel

State Park race series kicks off
at eastern Louisville facility

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

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 James Hahn.

E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park BMX Track

Photo by Helen McKinney

A 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 prize.
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 I-65 corridor.
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 Kentucky’s park system.
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.

Chris Head

Chris Head

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.
Head’s 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 Park’s 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.

E.P. Tom Sawyer

E.P. Tom Sawyer

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 Hahn.
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 Park’s Recreation Department at (502) 429-7270. Race registration forms are available at: www.parks.ky.gov.

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