Hadler Shoe Tree

I threw my first pair of shoes in 2015. Years of shoes were already there. I had written with permanent marker on an old pair of sneakers “Tourism 2015”. Before I threw them, I may have said a little prayer to be able to “fill the shoes” of being named Perry County’s first official tourism director. I may have also made a wish that I could share more of what makes Perry County so unique and special.

As I tossed, slung and threw that old pair of shoes over and over I quickly realized that this was not as easy as it looks. But throw after throw we smiled, giggled and laughed out loud at our pointless efforts to sling a pair of old shoes into a tree alongside a country gravel road.

Up until recently, area locals had just referred to it as “The Shoe Tree” and what was the significance, the purpose behind this odd collection? Well, not every action has to start out with a purpose or meaning does it? But sometimes when you have all the right “things” it just happens, and a tradition is born. I’m sure Willard Hadler had no intension of creating a tradition with his family when they slung their first pair. Willard and Glenda had seen another shoe tree on vacation out “west” years ago and thought it looked like something fun to do and they were right!

Over the years some key throwing techniques have emerged from repeat visitors honing their skills.

  • Slinging by shoestrings
  • The backwards throw
  • Boomerang method
  • Or the wind-up

The next time you are at the Shoe Tree take a minute to thinks about these “things”:

  • Appreciate the natural landscape of rural Perry County.
  • Take a deep breath of clean country air, most of the time we take that for granted.
  • Say a prayer, make a wish or just release some stress as you catapult your old soles. You make the reason or don’t need a reason at all to do this.
  • Remember the shoes are as different as the personalities of the people who have thrown them up there.
  • It’s pure fun for all ages.
  • Guaranteed to make you laugh out loud. Laughter is always good for the world.
  • Take family or friends. It’s a perfect time to create a fun memory.
  • And celebrate your victory when you snag a branch!

The shoe tree is open 365 days a year but the Hadler family is hoping to create an annual day event for shoe slinging in January. Check out our explore page and calendar for upcoming dates.

Photo credit: Nature’s Passion Photography by Jackie Johnson

Republic Monitor Newspaper Article, link here.

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