Oklahoma's first geocache trail to open in Blackwell

by Jordan Green

Geocaching is an outdoor sport in which players find hidden objects called “geocaches” by using the global positioning systems on their cellphones. In recent years, the sport has become a nationwide pastime, spawning national conventions like “GeoWoodstock” in Fort Worth, Texas.

The Blackwell Tourism Board hopes to capitalize upon the hype by linking geocaching to another local tourism icon: the barn quilt trail.

The city's barn quilt trail came to fruition last year thanks to volunteers who painted over 50 boards to represent the official quilts of various states in the U.S. The quilts were placed at area parks, farms, and businesses.

According to Cindy Oard, vice president of the Blackwell Tourism and Development Board, geocaches will be placed near each of the barn quilts in the Blackwell area. They will not, however, be placed on private property. Participants will go to the quilts and mark each site on their checklists, racking up points they can use toward a prize awarded by the board. Winners will receive a commemorative coin that has been created by the board.

“People will go around to each of the spots where a geocache is located and check off each location on their flyer. Once they have visited each site, they can mail the flyer to the tourism board and receive a coin commemorating the trail,” said Oard.

There will be a total of 40 geocaches in the Blackwell area, Oard said.

Participants can earn extra points by staying in an area hotel, shopping at local businesses, and eating at local restaurants. These points can substitute for those that would normally be earned by finding each geocache.

Oard credited the creation of the trail to Cecil Phipps and Rhonda Cobb. She said the two have “done everything” to get the trail online.

“Cecil has already got people committed to come,” she said.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the geocaching trail will be held Saturday, April 6 at the Top of Oklahoma Museum in Blackwell. Breakfast will be served at 9 a.m., with the ribbon-cutting taking place at 9:30 a.m. Geocachers will then go out to conquer the trail, winding up at The Marketplace on Main Street later in the day for an awards assembly. A geo-craft workshop will then be held, which will allow participants to make gifts related to the sport.

The Marketplace is located at 116 North Main Street, and the museum is located at 303 South Main Street.

Oard hopes individuals leaving GeoWoodstock in Fort Worth will stop off in Blackwell to complete the trail and support local businesses once the convention concludes in May.

To obtain a trail guide, participants should visit the museum and area hotels, where free copies are available. The city of Blackwell's website also has the flyers available online, allowing participants to download and print the forms. Participants can find the flyers at https://www.cityofblackwell.com/geocaching.

In the near future, Discover Oklahoma, an Oklahoma-based TV show, will be featuring the barn-quilt and geocaching trails on its statewide show.

Oard said she hopes the project and the publicity it brings to Blackwell will help show the community in a “positive light.”

“Our goal is to bring people to Blackwell and show them what a great community it is,” said Oard.