Fellow TRA members and OTR attendees,

I hope that you are getting some much-needed rest after returning home from the 70th OTR. I also hope that you had as much fun as I did!!!

It was an OTR, enjoyed by 1454 attendees, filled with incredible activities, challenging (and fun) contests, amazing bands, and fellowship that will not soon be forgotten. Like many of you, I was not able to do or see everything that OTR has to offer.

However, some of the things that I really enjoyed included greeting OTR attendees as they rushed through the gate on Thursday at noon, the Opening Ceremony, the bonfire lighting and welcoming of the Virgins, reading the Coot & Holler as I enjoyed my coffee each morning, playing a game of poker (where all funds were donated to the Sauna Project), watching the various Speleolympic contests (Sterling Dawson and Crew did an amazing job taking over the obstacle course this year), enjoying a couple of Big Timber Brewery beverages at Cooters, making a really cool piece of art at the Event Tent during Cheryl’s painting class, dancing to all of the outstanding bands, watching the Mortgage Papers for the Cooters Structure Loan burn while Shanty Irish played, catching a glimpse or two of some 70’s movies at the Crawl-In Theatre, attending the Gong Show, watching the Bubbles Fun Run, shopping at the vendors’ booths on Vendor’s Row, seeing Batman the magician amaze the kids with his talents, seeing the creativity of those that participated in the Doo-Dah Parade, buying stuff at the OTR Auction with Kelley Deem coming out of retirement to serve as the auctioneer, memorializing my attendance at OTR via the panoramic photo, seeing the old photos at the OTR Museum, attending the Military Tribute, stopping by the Dome on the way to the Sauna Foam Party (and then seeing all of the people having a blast at the foam party), chatting with the bartenders at the Brew Crew, relaxing at the River Party, getting a piece of art from the FARTists, attending the Gathering of Believers, and then watching the TRA Award recipients receive their awards.

Most importantly, and what means the most to me, is the time that I was able to spend with very dear friends while I was looking for some quiet time.  Late Sunday night was a very special time spent with friends.

A lot of planning for the 71st OTR began months ago and there will be some new and exciting events and activities that will be disclosed soon.  Updates will be posted on the OTR website and on the official OTR Facebook page.

Before I finish up the work from the 70th OTR and turn full focus to the 71st OTR, I would like to express my thanks to you, the attendees of the 70th OTR, for all of the wonderful comments and words of appreciation that you provided to me during OTR.  I hope that I conveyed to you during our conversations that I had very little to do with the OTR experience that you were enjoying.  My job, as Chairman, was to ask very passionate and dedicated volunteers to take control of and run all of the activities that you were enjoying.  I simply provided support to the OTR Staff and facilitated their requests to allow them to make OTR a great experience for you.

I would like to thank a few people that made my job, as OTR Chairman, so much easier and without their mentorship, support, and friendship; you probably would have found me floating facedown in the river.

I owe a great deal of thanks to Ben Mirable, OTR Vice-Chairman; Sarah Mosberg (and Stephen), immediate past OTR Chair (best mentor ever); members of Cooterville (our campsite that dealt with a great deal of increased traffic); members of the TRA Board of Trustees for their immeasurable mentorship and support; the amazing volunteer OTR Staff, and members of the Dead Puppies Grotto.

Last, but certainly not least, I owe a tremendous expression of sincere gratitude and appreciation to my daughter, Noel Joy Shackelford.  If you saw me at the 70th OTR, you probably saw her by my side taking notes or running around doing the dozens of tasks that I requested of her to make your OTR experience more enjoyable.  The entire time she served at my side; she functioned with a sense of excitement, grace, humility, and a true desire to make sure that you had the best possible OTR.  I couldn’t be more proud of her willingness to get so actively involved with such an amazing group of cavers.

I had a wonderful time at the 70th OTR.  It was great to reunite with old friends and I made some new friends that I hope to see again for many years to come.

We’re planning to have a fabulous 71st OTR and in the words of Dale Ibberson, “It’s a Bran’ New Party!”


OTR 2019 – 2020