Motorcyclists, and road trip enthusiasts in general, have an opportunity to cruise north-central Montana roads, win prizes and help out a good cause this weekend in the area's first poker run of the season.
Eagle Riders, a motorcycle club affiliated with Havre's Eagles Club Aerie No. 166, is holding its 2nd Annual Spring Opener Poker Run fundraiser Saturday with an expanded venue that also includes a dinner, a silent auction, vendors and a street dance.
"We are basically focused on raising money for local charities and families," said Eagle Riders President Brian Carpenter.
This year, any motorcyclists and any motorists who want to join in the poker run will leave the Eagles Club mid-morning and travel to Pep's in Big Sandy then on to The Club in Fort Benton, The Grand in Chester, Spencer's Hi-Way Bar in Hingham and The Walleye Tavern at Fresno before returning to the Eagles Club in early evening, said Carpenter.
At each stop participants will draw a chip, representing a card from a poker deck, to end up with a hand of five cards at the end of the ride.
"It's basically five-card draw," said Carpenter, with door prizes at each stop and a good day out on the road.
Registration for the ride begins at 9:30 a.m. at the Eagles Club, and the riders start heading out at 10:30. A taco bar will provide lunch in Fort Benton for $6. At the end of the ride, prizes will be awarded to the highest and second-highest poker hands, as well as the worst hand, he said.
But people don't have to be a part of the poker run to join in the activities and fundraising efforts, said Carpenter.
Vendors - including a motorcycle shop which will be buying and selling parts and an Eagle Rider booth selling T-shirts and coozies in the basement, along with a motorcycle wash stand and a Jaycees membership booth outside - will set up around 4:30 p.m. and be open until midnight
The Swiss steak dinner will be served from 6 to 8 p.m., and a street dance on 2nd Avenue, next to the Eagles, from 8 p.m. to midnight will round out the day's activities.
The group is also holding a silent auction during the dinner, and people can buy raffle tickets to win a rototiller, artwork and power tools, Carpenter said.
"There's a little bit of something for everybody," he said.
Eagle Riders also invited Havre Youth Baseball Association to serve breakfast from 8 a.m. to noon Sunday at the Eagles Club to raise money for their organization.
"We try to involve different clubs and organizations each year that we do this," said Carpenter. This gives other organizations a chance to make money at an event to which people are already drawn by the Eagle Riders' advertising, he added.
The poker run is the first of four major fundraising events the Eagle Riders hold each year, in addition to the smaller fundraisers, such as booze basket raffles and feeds held throughout the year, said Carpenter, and 90 percent of all money raised by this relatively new group is donated to charitable causes.
"To date, we have raised nearly $40,000 over the course of two years and donated them to local community organizations and a couple families," he said.
The group came into existence just two years ago.
Each recipient of the Eagle Riders' fundraising efforts is decided on in advance by club members, said Carpenter.
This year's beneficiary from the poker run is the Montana Wounded Warrior Project which works to provide all-expenses-paid hunting trips to up to six wounded Montana veterans each year.
Carpenter said the inaugural event in 2013 had 47 entrants, three of them traveling in cars, and raised nearly $2,000.
Because the fledgling group hadn't done anything like this before, they voted in advance to donate 50 percent of the money raised to March of Dimes, but keep the other 50 percent to ensure they could cover surprise expenses, he said. Afterward, they realized they had things covered so ended up donating more money and changed their general policy for subsequent events to keep only about 10 percent for operational expenses.
Cost for the poker run is $25 with registration at 9:30 a.m. and the ride starting at 10:30. Poker run registration also includes the dinner and the street dance cover charge. For people who just want to attend the evening events, dinner and street dance is $10, and the dance, only, costs $3.
For more information on any of the activities, contact Carpenter at 945-4312.