The Knights of Columbus Journey for Charity Tractor Cruise organizers said they again had a successful year — despite some rainy weather.
Once all of the donations are tallied, the group expects to top last year’s total.
So far, the event has raised $20,000, according to Union Grand Knight Rich Bolzenius.
“We are on track to definitely meet, and probably beat last year,” he said.
The Union, Washington, St. John’s-Gildehaus and St. Clair councils organized the cruise.
Each council takes one-quarter of the proceeds to be donated to the food banks of its choice.
There was $19,000 raised last year after expenses. That is $4,750 to each council.
“I feel confident that we will give $5,000 to each council this year,” Bolzenius said.
The Knights will continue to accept donations through Oct. 1, and anything received after that date will be applied to next year’s ride.
This was the sixth year for the annual tractor cruise that stretches 30 miles from St. Clair, through Union and to Washington.
Every year we say we want to do as well as last year, and every year we have beat it,” said Bolzenius.
“I am amazed at how it all comes together,” said District 24 Deputy Mark Filla. “It is wonderful to see councils pull together and do a project — it is amazing to see the camaraderie.”
Bolzenius added that this was a community fund-raiser, not only a Knights of Columbus event.
John Jasper, with the Union Knights of Columbus, said there were 85 tractors this year, up from about 80 last year.
“The rain slowed us down a bit, but everything went well,” he said. “It was on schedule and everyone had a good time.”
Once the cruise went into drier areas, there were many people out watching.
“It’s a lot of fun. When we see all of the folks standing by the side of roads,” he said. “It is all about giving — they get a good feeling about putting a bag of food on the trailer. It is rewarding to everyone involved.”
During the route, about 1,000 pounds of food also was collected to donate to the pantries.
The food was dispersed to local food pantries Sunday at a barbecue in Washington following the cruise.
“The food pantries divided it up right there,” Jasper said. “The way we see it, they had canned goods on the shelf by Monday morning.”
There are many people behind the scenes who contribute to the smooth running of the event, he noted
“We have more and more help each year because there are more people who want to get involved,” Jasper said.
The cruise organizers were recognized in early August with the 2013 International Council Activity Award at the 131st annual international convention of the Knights of Columbus held in San Antonio, Texas.
“We had it with us, displayed it and showed it off,” said Jasper. “The highlight of the day was showing drivers who participated, and the donors and sponsors — it wouldn’t be possible without them.”
“Everyone who took place put Franklin County on the map of the world,” added Jasper.
The seventh annual Journey for Charity Tractor Cruise will be held the Sunday after Labor Day weekend in 2014.