Mark your calendar and sign up early. Saturday, October 24, 2015, is the date of the 82nd annual Lewis Emery (Lewis Family) Treasure Hunt. Gather at the new Merchant Building at Hillsdale County Fairgrounds around 5:00. Event begins at 6:00. The cost is $20 (cash) per carload. Sign up any time at the Hillsdale Finish Line between 2:00-5:00. Latecomers could sign up at the fairgrounds on the day of the event, but it is recommended to enlist your team early so the organizers have a good idea of the number of clues to provide. There are typically around 100 teams of 4 (or more) that hunt for the treasure every year.
The hunt typically begins with a simple puzzle. Decipher the code and seek the next clue that is typically hidden somewhere on the fairgrounds property. The second clue is usually one of the toughest ones. Carloads of puzzle solvers scatter around the grounds and try to figure out where to go next. There are typically 10 puzzles to solve over the course of the evening. Each of them are placed in remote locations somewhere in Hillsdale County. The puzzles are usually hidden in black plastic garbage bags that are secluded in the weeds along roadways or in public parks. Flashlights are a necessity. Pencils, papers, cell phones with charging cords can be very helpful.
Occasionally, simple things like scissors, tape, and can openers can be helpful. Sometimes the phone book, the Bible, today’s newspaper, or the latest Tip Off are necessary. One year, a CD player was required. Access to YouTube videos and other sources of social media have also been helpful. Snacks and caffeinated beverages will also help teams get through the night. My personal goal is to finish by midnight–that’s a 6 hour hunt. More often, our team roles in during the wee hours. The good news is that there is a feast awaiting everyone at the final destination. Usually it’s sloppy Joes, chips, cookies, and soft drinks. Contestants can give up early and call a hotline to get the location of the final destination to get some food.
The first team to finish wins $500 cash, along with bragging rights. They also get to design and organize next year’s hunt. Other top finishers get smaller cash prizes. Our team usually finishes in the top 25, but we have never won any money. It is a fun night to spend with family or friends. We may come in late, but we always finish. We hope to arrive at the final destination while there is still food being served. At some point, the organizers have to call it a night. Last year, we rolled in at 3:05 AM and were able to commiserate and get a bite to eat. It was not a stellar performance by our team, but we were still in the top 25. We got stumped on a clue and wasted too much time. We were hours behind the eventual winners. We had driven over 170 miles without leaving the county. We consumed large quantities of Mountain Dew, Slim Jims, and Snickers. We had a very good time.
My team dresses in NFL jerseys. We have headband lights, hand-held spotlights, and multiple cords for our assortment of smart phones and tablets. We play our car stereo loud and have always had a theme song and a war cry. My team is lined up and ready to go. For more information, call this year’s organizer Jennifer Leggett at 517-320-1581.
“Life is good in Jonesville”