For the past 80 years, on a Saturday night in October, people have been traversing Hillsdale County in search of treasure. The treasure can only be found by solving a series of puzzles and finding each clue in the shortest amount of time. The hunt starts around dusk and continues on into the night. Each clue leads to a new destination in another area of the county where the next clue can be found after searching the woods, bushes, and trenches. The best problem solvers finish the hunt by midnight. Teams that run into trouble have been known to give up or finish by dawn. Typically, 10 clues are used to get to the final destination. The booty is hundreds of dollars in cash, and the privilege of hosting next year’s treasure hunt. Everyone who finishes in a reasonable amount of time gets food and drinks, and the satisfaction of completing the task and enjoying the revelry of other players.
The 80th annual Lewis Family Treasure Hunt–sometimes called the Lewis Emery Treasure Hunt–will be held on Saturday, October 19, 2013. The hunt will begin at 6:00 PM at the Merchants Building at Hillsdale County Fairgrounds. Cost is $20 per carload. Past hunts have had about 400 participants in 100 vehicles. At the gathering, the rules are laid out, a hotline is provided, and the first clue is released. Then, each team solves the puzzle that leads to the next clue that is hidden somewhere in the county. The final clue leads to a gathering place where the organizers have provided a celebration for the finishers.
Past tools that have helped players get to the final destination include: a smart phone, GPS, a county map, scissors, tape, can opener, flashlight, clipboards, pencils, highlighters, CD player, batteries, cell phone chargers, string, magnifying glass, the Bible, local phone book, today’s paper, and a full tank of gas.
Our team wears football jerseys and has a war cry to alert the other members that the clue has been found. We have a high energy theme song that plays loudly and continuously on repeat for the entire evening–no, we don’t get sick of it. We have one driver, one navigator, at least 2 problem solvers–1 person is also our designated runner. We are nourished on Twinkies, Halloween Candy, and Mountain Dew. Our records include finishing in 4 hours 41 minutes, driving only 132 miles without leaving the county, and getting to the final destination in every hunt we entered.
“Life is good in Jonesville”