Whitney Poker Run raises $2,700

The Whitney Recreation Committee held their Poker Run for the second-year post COVID-19 on May 11. The event, sponsored by the Whitney Fish and Game Club, attracted ATV enthusiasts locally and from hours away. The cost was $20 per hand and prizes were awarded to the top three hands at the end of the run. Gloria Beauclair with the Whitney Recreation Committee comments on this successful event.

Beauclair told The Bancroft Times on May 7 that the preparations for the Poker Run were going very well. “A team of volunteers have already been clearing fallen trees off the trail. We really appreciate the people who took a full day to do this for us,” she says.

Poker runs originated back in the 1970s, when motorcycle enthusiasts sought to combine their love of riding and their passion for poker. Over time, the idea spread to other forms of transport, including ATVs and side by sides. Besides having a start and finish point, there are usually five to seven checkpoints where riders draw a playing card, which is recorded. After hitting the finish line, the goal is to have the best poker hand out of all the cards collected. Traditional poker hands like a straight flush or two pairs determine who wins the poker run.

The largest ever motorcycle poker run was in 2009, according to the Guiness Book of World Records. Organized by the Red Knights International Motorcycle Club, over 2,100 bikers took part in 22 simultaneous poker runs in nine different states to benefit the Fallen Firefighters Survivors Foundation. The record for the largest event in one location was set four years later in Colorado when 1,494 bikers raised $130,000 for Realities for Children.

Post COVID-19, this is the second year that the Whitney Recreation Committee has held the Poker Run, popular with outdoor ATV and side by side enthusiasts. Prizes are gas cards and gas cans. Beauclair says it is becoming a very popular sport in their area and surrounding areas. “Last year, there were about 150 people in the run. This year, weather cooperating of course, we are expecting a lot more than that,” she says.

Beauclair says they are hoping to raise $2,500, but it will depend on how many people join them. The proceeds will go toward children’s functions in the area. Beauclair says that the run will start at the Lester Smith Community Centre and head to Hay Lake Road. “[From there] continuing on to Maguey Road. Then to the old railroad tracks, left to the hydro line, then cut over to the Hard Tack and back to the community centre in Whitney. [It will be] 62 kilometres in total,” she says.

Following the run at 3 p.m., there will be a barbecue at the Lester Smith Community Centre, with food and drink courtesy of the Whitney Recreation Committee. “The participants can then purchase hamburgers, hot dogs and drinks at the barbecue,” she says.

Beauclair says they are very excited for the Poker Run this year. “People are calling from up to four hours away saying they are coming. We are all looking forward to meeting people and having fun. Whitney is becoming a popular area for this sport,” she says.

On the day of the Poker Run on May 11, Robert Craftchick was barbecuing the burgers and hot dogs, while Beauclair and Councillor Laurie Siydock were preparing and serving the food, with assistance from Theresa. Siydock, Councillor Joan Kuiack and Joanne were selling tickets for the Beautification Committee raffle for $5 each.

Brad, Mary and Rita were there at the Poker Run. Brad’s a local while Mary and Rita are from Ottawa with a cottage on Aylen Lake. Rita says they’ve enjoyed four wheeling activities for years. “You’re outside, you see lots of scenery. And all the smells as you go through the forests or the marshes. I’ll be interesting,” she says.

Tracy, Jeanette and Nicole were getting their ATVs ready before the run and said they’d done it last year. Tracy said they’d had a lot of fun. “We wanted to do it again this year,” she says.

Len was also up there at the Lester Smith Community Centre and said his cousin had called him about the Poker Run. “He asked me to come up. I’m from Brantford. I drove up just for this,” he says.

John, Kiptyn and Elton were at the Poker Run last year, and had fun but found out about it too late to participate this year, although they did support it at the post-run barbecue. John thought it was a great community event. “That’s what people want to do, go out on their ATVs. It’s smart. That’s how you get people involved. Get them doing something they’d naturally do anyways. It’s good for the community,” he says.

On Facebook, the Whitney Recreation Committee thanked all of their volunteers that made the event possible from cleaning the trails, helping with registration and the great food cooked. “So many great people. The winners are; Michelle Gedds (first place with $300), Rob Card (second place with $200), and Lindsay Collins (third place with $100). The door prize of the gas can with a $25 gas card was won by Danny Baxter and Jeff Voldock. Thanks for another great year. See you in 2025!” they said in their posting.

Beauclair told The Bancroft Times that the Poker Run went extremely well and that 165 people registered to participate, up from 150 people last year. “The Poker Run was a blast. Everyone came in with a huge smile, talked about how much fun they had, and we finished the run with a barbecue and prizes,” she says. “We raised $2,700, which will go towards children’s activities and functions.”

Michael Riley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Bancroft Times