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Glacial Ridge Model T Tour will celebrate trail, car

WILLMAR -- Anniversaries for the Glacial Ridge Trail and the Model T Ford will be celebrated in tandem Friday during the Glacial Ridge Model T Tour organized by a variety of local organizations.

The Glacial Ridge Trail's 40th anniversary will be celebrated by hosting a tour for Model T Ford automobiles on its 200-plus mile scenic byway. Meanwhile, the Model T Ford celebrates its 100th anniversary this year.

The Glacial Ridge Trail Committee, Kandiyohi Tourism Committee, Willmar Car Club, Willmar Convention and Visitors Bureau and area chambers of commerce are expecting about 50 Model T Fords to chug along the scenic byway from Willmar to Alexandria.

Randy Nelson, area coordinator for Prairie Country Rural Conservation and Development and secretary of the Glacial Ridge Trail Committee, said 95 percent of the Model T tour will be traveled on the trail.

"It's been a real exciting undertaking for the Glacial Ridge Trail Committee," Nelson said. "...It's really given us an opportunity to promote the trail and its 40th anniversary right along with the Model T tour."

The three-day event begins at 3 p.m. Friday with registrations and a reception at the Holiday Inn in Willmar.

Nelson said local spectators can probably best view Saturday's procession of the Model Ts at the Willmar Conference Center departure location and in the towns of Spicer and New London. Saturday's ride will start around 9:30 a.m. and end around 4 p.m. in Alexandria after driving through Spicer, New London, Glenwood and Villard. Nelson said the tour will be followed with a gathering at the Alexandria Holiday Inn.

Sunday's return ride, which involves touring through Holmes City, Lowry, Starbuck, Swift Falls and Sunburg, will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Nelson said the Model Ts are expected to reach speeds up to 30 mph during the tours and a trailing party will follow the Model Ts in case of any mechanical problems.

This is the first time a car tour like this has been done "in this region or this part of the country," Nelson said, so if successful, it could become an annual event like the New London to New Brighton Antique Car Run.

The Glacial Ridge Trail was first developed by a group of individuals from the Swift, Pope and Kandiyohi counties in 1968. According to a news release from Prairie Country RC&D, its name reflects the area's rich geological history as glaciers carved out the region thousands of years ago. The trail was designated as a state scenic byway in 1998.

According to the news release, the first Model T Ford was built in 1908 and sold for $850. By its last year of production in 1927, more than 15 million of the four-cylinder "Tin Lizzies" had been sold.