Whether you like to break out the Harley and full gear for a scenic cruise around south central Wisconsin or just your favorite four-wheeled ride, on Saturday you can do it on behalf of area veterans.
The fourth annual Freedom Ride is Saturday, June 8, starting and ending at Stoughton American Legion Post 59 at 803 N. Page St.
Riders — which can include motorcycles, autos, trucks and antique cars — can register and start anytime between 10-11:30 a.m. This year’s approximately 100 mile route will stop at Pine Bluff, Blanchardville, Belleville and back to Stoughton, at VFW Post 328 (200 Veterans Road). There, at 4:30 p.m., the riders will receive a police escort through downtown Stoughton back to the American Legion.
The ride began in 2016 with about 100 participants, This year, around 150 are expected (around 85 percent motorcycles), said co-organizer Rick Gullickson.
He said planning for the ride begins in December and meetings are held monthly. Each year, they select a different route “with scenic beauty and safety two important factors.” The day prior to the ride, committee members travel the route, putting up directional signs and sweeping off loose gravel.
In addition to the $20 per person entry fee, back at the Legion after the ride, participants are treated to a meal of brats, hot dogs, pulled pork sandwiches, salad, chips and dessert. There will also be a silent auction, raffles and a best poker hand ($200 first prize).
The post race meal, silent auction, and raffles are open to participants only, but people are encouraged to donate to the cause. Bud Erickson of Stoughton American Legion Post 59 said while most donations for the event are local, the ride has gained support throughout the state, with all proceeds going to help maintain the Stoughton Area Veterans Memorial Park.
“It is growing and the community support is solid,” he said. “It’s exciting.”