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Harbor Beach, Michigan
Maritime Festival
Can-Am Cup
July 17-18, 2004


Poker run offers recreation riders a chance to be involved.

Chris Ogryski
Sports Writer - Huron County Press

Volume 6

The Can-Am Cup started out as just a concept discussed on a watercraft website, but quickly turned into the second most spectator attended personal watercraft event in the country. With that track record of success, it is obvious why there is such a buzz for what this year’s newest event, the Light House  Poker run, could become in just a few years.

The Poker run is geared toward the recreational rider and will provide them an opportunity to be a part of the Maritime Festival activities, in a less competitive setting. “I want everyone to enjoy themselves,” Al Kleinknecht said.

Kleinknecht is a member of the Harbor Beach Maritime Festival Committee, and along with Skip Kadar are the men behind the Poker run. 

The Poker Run will start down at the Trescot Street Beach just north of the pier.  Registration for the event will begin at 9:30 with the run beginning at 11:00 AM. All machines must be in the water and at the festival site by the pier prior to the 11:00 AM start time. Machines will be moored prior to the event and should have a full tank of gas.

The event itself will involve running a buoy course, as well as a radar run , and possibly include a trip to a century old lighthouse. As riders complete each of these stages they will be given a poker card, which will ultimately determine if they are winners or not.

After the radar run and the possible lighthouse visit,  there will be a trip out in Lake Huron and the riders will cruise seven miles to scenic Wagener Park for “a little BBQ, socializing, and some fine music” according to Kleinknecht. 

That “fine music” will be provided by Thom Ellis, who will also be performing later that night at the completion of the Can-Am Cup races. Ellis will be performing “unplugged” and in essence is his own opening act for later in the evening.

After the activities are over, the riders will take a casual trip back to Harbor Beach, where “the cards will tell the tale.” Those cards that riders got at each stage will be used to determine who has the best poker hands and thus who will be taking home the prizes.

But that is not all for those who choose to be a part of this historic event. There is an amazing prize in store for one of the Poker run participants or one of the Can-Am riders. Details are being well-guarded (the Maritime Festival Committee is big on surprises this year), but needless to say it would be worth it for the Poker runners to come over and watch the completion of the Can-Am Cup.

“Something special will take place during the Can-Am competition.  An awesome prize will be given to one lucky watercrafter,” Kleinknecht said. “One lucky person will leave feeling pretty darn good about the evening.”

While no one but the committee knows what this amazing prize is, the best way to find out is to be there.

Regardless of what the prize is, Kleinknecht just hopes this Poker run gives some PWC enthusiasts the chance to enjoy themselves for an afternoon. “There are a lot of recreational riders in the county and state. There are also a lot of racers in this region.  My goal is to put all of them together at one place at one time...The Budweiser Can-Am Cup,” Kleinknecht admitted.

This event is one of the most spectacular watercraft events in the world and should be seen by everyone who has one common love-PWC riding,” Kleinknecht continued.

The cost of the event is $50 and $10 for each additional rider on the same watercraft. Additionally, the riders will be responsible for the launch fee from the Offshore Marina or the Harbor Beach Marina.

Included in the $50 cost is a t-shirt, food, entertainment, an opportunity to socialize with other watercraft enthusiasts, a one day AWA membership, as well as insurance. “Insurance is a large part of the expense,” Kleinknecht said.

Even with the moderate cost for the event, Kleinknecht has no idea how successful the Poker run will be in its initial showing. “This is the first year- it's kind of hard to judge (how successful it will be).  We may get 10 riders, 25 riders or maybe 250 riders- all have been known to happen,” Kleinknecht said.

While Kleinknecht is modest in his predictions for the Poker Run, his track record shows that this event may not be huge this year, but will likely show tremendous growth in the years to come.















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