John Michael Montgomery will headline this year’s Saddle Up for St. Jude festival

By  | July 10, 2018 | Filed under: News

TUSCUMBIA-Riders from several states are getting ready to load up their horses and head to Gardiner Farm in Tuscumbia to help fight childhood cancer.

The 22nd annual Saddle Up for St. Jude Trail Ride and Festival is Friday, July 20 and Saturday, July 21 at Gardiner Farm, 85 Underwood Road, Tuscumbia. The festival includes trail rides, wagon rides, pony rides, concerts, a huge auction, arts and crafts, food vendors and activities for children. It is the nation’s largest trail ride for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.

This year’s headline entertainers are April Michelle on Friday night and John Michael Montgomery on Saturday night. Montgomery is country music superstar, whose hits include “I Swear”, “Be My Baby Tonight” and “I Love the Way You Love Me”

John Michael Montgomery

Festival coordinator Jimmy King said all the profit from the event goes to the hospital. Since it began in 1996, the festival has raised more than $1.8 million for St. Jude. “We hope to go over the $2 million mark this year for the amount of money we have raised for St. Jude.”

Riders have more than 25 miles of trails spread over around 3,000 acres. King said riders choose their pace and the trails they want to explore. No all-terrain vehicles, other than those used by St. Jude volunteers, are allowed on the trails. More details are available at

King said owning a horse is not a requirement to attend the festival. “All they need to bring is a lawn chair. It’s going to be lots of fun for everyone.”

Admission for the weekend is a $35 donation for riders. Admission for non-riders is $10 on Friday and $20 on Saturday.  Primitive camping is available.

The farm opens at 7 a.m. on Friday, July 20. Concessions open at 10 a.m. and music begins at 6 p.m. with Cowboy Church Band, followed by Deja Vu at 7:15 p.m. and April Michelle at 8:30 p.m.

The farm opens at 7 a.m. on Saturday, July 21. Music begins at 10:30 a.m. with Hadley followed by Showdown at noon  and the Josh Brannon Band at 1:30 p.m. The auction begins at 2:30 p.m. Montgomery’s performance begins at 7:30 p.m.

Susann Hamlin, president and CEO of the Colbert County Tourism and Convention Bureau, said Saddle Up for St. Jude is one of the largest annual events in the Shoals.

“Although it’s called a trail ride, it’s open to everyone who wants to listen to great music, eat delicious food and help St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital,” Hamlin said. “It’s a great event for families.”

For more details, call 256-446-5392 or Colbert County Tourism and Convention Bureau at 256-383-0783.

Directions to Gardiner Farm

From U.S. 72 in Tuscumbia, turn south onto service road at Colbert County Farmers Co-Op. Go one block then turn left onto Frankfort Road. Travel south for 1.7 miles, then, turn left onto Underwood Mountain Road. Travel 3.1 miles to County Farm Road and follow the signs.

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