ALCOLA – The Redbank Valley Municipal Park’s 21st annual ATV Poker Run took place right on schedule on Saturday, Sept. 12. In a year when many outdoor recreational events have been canceled, participants took advantage of perfect weather and a popular venue to put their machines through their paces.
Event organizer Tom Troupe said, “The poker run is the major source of revenue for RVMP throughout the year. Without it, the park would probably have to shut down.”
While the official number of vehicles entered in the event was kept under wraps, organizers said the event was a success. The contestant with the best poker hand at the end of the day was awarded $500.
The rules of the road included wearing helmets and other safety equipment. Goggles and face shields kept debris out of the eyes and faces of drivers and their teammates, a good thing given the clouds of dust rising behind a steady line of ATVs and trail bikes.
Safety and medical personnel were on hand in case of accidents and injuries more serious than a scrape or bruise.
The dust cloud was the best way to track the progress of the riders. The park’s narrow roads were hemmed in on all sides by rows of trucks, trailers and large RVs, contestants’ overnight lodgings for a day. Every possible grassy area was occupied by a camper or bus-like motorhome.
Somewhat more rugged individuals opted to pitch tents inside the park’s picnic pavilions close to electrical outlets for plugging in slow cookers and other small appliances.
The dust cloud hovered over the park’s gravel cartways before leading the eye to a string of vehicles braking and turning carefully onto a dirt path through a patch of trees. As they approached the challenging segment of the course, drivers and passengers flashed quick thumbs-up and wide grins.
Between the RVs and team trailers, small groups of people relaxed, grabbed a bite to eat and waited for their turn for a crack at the winding and often rugged trail.
The first riders left the start line at 9 a.m., with contestants taking off throughout the day. The last of the riders had to be off the course by 6 p.m.