The Natural State is a phrase that many Arkansans take to heart and The Spark Foundation is no different. The many national forests, parks, trails, and creeks allow us to participate in an active lifestyle, enjoy the outdoors, and join our neighbors for family-friendly activities.
In 1989, Wade Colwell started the Cow Paddy Run in Gulley Park in Fayetteville, AR to fund the construction of paths and a gazebo for the community to enjoy. The race continued until the early 2000’s raising money for the city’s public schools. In 2011, two of The Spark Foundation board members, Max Mahler and Ben Putman, brought back the run after fond memories of their first 5Ks at the Cow Paddy Run in Gulley Park. The Cow Paddy Run is now hosted by The Spark Foundation every year and proceeds are donated to the Fayetteville Public Education Foundation.
In 2014, 11 acres adjacent to Gulley Park came up for sale, so naturally many Fayetteville residents wanted to preserve the land and extend Gulley Park instead of developing it. The Spark Foundation was pleased to assist the citizen group, Friends of Gulley Park, in raising the $1.1 million necessary to buy the land and grow the park by 40%! (Watch Max and Ben discuss the Gulley Park expansion.)
Gulley Park is now a 27 acre park in the heart of Fayetteville, AR. The park has many amenities including: picnic areas, sand volleyball, a pavilion, 1.5 miles of trail, and a gazebo. After the expansion, Gulley Park will have 38 acres of land devoted to community use. Find the Gulley Park expansion plan here!
We are so proud of our community for coming together to further Fayetteville’s family friendly atmosphere. Gulley Park is more than another park- it’s a place for our community to gather for summer concerts, our children to have soccer practice, our friends to participate in training runs for our awesome half marathons, and for everyone to take a deep breath enjoy the smell of freshly cut grass and sound of running water through the creek.
HUGE thanks to our community for keeping Fayetteville happy and healthy!
Don’t forget- you can find the Spark Foundation at the Gulley Park gazebo on the Friday before Spring Break for the annual Cow Paddy Run! Can’t wait to see you there!