Ramsey Park offers great outdoors venue

Troy Krause
A pair of Ramsey Park zoo visitors lured in one of the elk with some carrots.

When is the last time you really enjoyed a visit made to Ramsey Park in Redwood Falls?

While the municipal park has been around for decades, it seems the public is gaining a newfound appreciation for the 200-plus acre park and the numerous amenities that it offers to visitors.

An element of that appreciation comes from the fact that the public can go there and enjoy the outdoors – getting out of the house even for just a little while to combat the coronavirus cabin fever that has become a reality for many in recent weeks.

According to Ross Nachreiner, City of Redwood Falls parks and recreation department director, Ramsey Park is open to the public, and there are no areas of the park which are off limits.

Of course, Nachreiner added, visitors are encouraged to be safe and use extreme caution during their stop in the park.

“Remaining socially distant to those outside of your family is the most important prevention that we can ask,” explained Nachreiner, adding a critical part of that its consistent washing of one’s hands.

Whether it is while enjoying the playground equipment or using the restroom facilities, Nachreiner indicated people need to wash their hands before and after any activities. 

As of June 1, the park’s campground is open, although the city has decided to close the tenting area of the campground.

“We are asking that anyone that wants to camp in Ramsey campground to rent an established site. We have to be able to control groups and those groups keeping their distance from others,” Nachreiner explained.

Shelter reservations for groups of 20 and under are being taken, and weddings and funerals are allowed outside and can have as many as 250 people.

Nachreiner indicated that the pens in the zoo are full of animals.

Playgrounds are also available, as are the trails and falls.

One of the primary reasons for the success of the park is the role of the Friends of the Park. According to Brenda Joines, current Friends of the Park president, its purpose as a 501C3 entity under the umbrella of the Redwood Area Communities Foundation is “to raise funds for the purpose of supporting improvements in Ramsey Park. We work directly with the City of Redwood Falls to support needed park projects. Whenever possible we try to multiply our funds with matching grants.”

Funds are raised through private donations, annual memberships and fundraising events.

According to Joines, “we have two ongoing fundraisers.One is the annual Ramsey Park Jamboree. The other is through the sale of donor bricks along the River Walk in the zoo area. In the past we have also purchased park equipment, such as benches and picnic tables, with donor plate recognition.”

Joines added due to the generosity of the community and together with the City of Redwood Falls and the parks and recreation department, the Friends of the Park has been able to contribute and be a part of these following projects:

• Trail system and construction of walking bridges over Ramsey Creek and Redwood River

• Replace trails with concrete

• Bathroom renovation at Falls shelter and the new bathroom at Perks Park/Westside Park

• Zeb Gray Shelter upgrades

• Zoo renovations

• Falls overlook renovation

• Fun and safe playground equipment

• Campground improvements

• Park shelters, benches, picnic tables and more

• Lower Shelter patio

• Lower Shelter large grill area

• Fire pits

• Landscaping

The total amount contributed to the City of Redwood Falls for park improvements since 1991 is $618,114.58.

The Friends of the park has been raising funds for as well as designing a plan for an all-inclusive playground at the Zeb Gray shelter.

Joines added the Friends of the Park would also like to supply funds toward a bathroom facility at the Zeb Gray Shelter.

To make donations through Friends of the Park, the public can contact it through its Facebook Page. They can send funds directly to Friends of the Park, PO Box 439, Redwood Falls, MN, 56283.

For more information regarding making a donation, contact Joines or Gail Ripka at Minnwest Bank at (507) 637-5731.

To purchase a brick to be placed in Ramsey Park, visit www.thatsmybrick.com.

Having to cancel the jamboree for 2020 has had an impact on current plans.

According to Joines, the plan was to start putting the playground at Zeb Gray in this month.

“We are so close to our goal to start the new playground and without this fundraiser, we are falling short to be able to complete it this summer. The funds yet needed are for the special surface which provides all inclusive access to the equipment. This is approximately $25,000,” Joines explained, adding 100 percent of the business sponsors for the Ramsey Park Jamboree have agreed to apply their proceeds to the Zeb Gray playground project. “This is an amazing vote by the businesses and individual donors in Redwood County who support the park.”

Nachreiner indicated the hope is still to install the all-inclusive playground that the Friend of the Park was able to purchase this year.

“At this time we are putting any future plans on hold,” added Nachreiner. “Uncertainty with LGA in the coming years will dictate what we are able to do in our parks. One major project in the coming years will be getting water and sewer to all 31 campsites in the park. I would also like to see us expand the campground and increase our site by five.”

While safety is the number one priority, staff also want to make sure visitors have a positive experience when they visit the park.