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HomeEvent CoverageAn Impressive Return For Louisiana’s Tickfaw 200 Poker Run

An Impressive Return For Louisiana’s Tickfaw 200 Poker Run

With incredible hospitality provided by his great friends, Craig and Patti Mears, Arkansas performance boat enthusiast Sam Jirik has attended the Tickfaw 200 Poker Run in Louisiana several times, and he’s never been disappointed. Now that doesn’t mean he hasn’t had some unpleasant weather experiences or unbearable days following a late night at the Mears compound, but the positives always outweigh the negatives when it comes to his visits to the Louisiana Bayou for the event. And this year was no different, even after new owners took over the host venue, Blood River Landing in Springfield, following the event’s hiatus in 2020, 2021 and 2022.

Sun Buns in Manchac, La., enjoyed having the Tickfaw 200 Poker Run back in full swing. Photos by Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix

“Tickfaw was fun—it’s always fun boating out there,” said Jirik, who brought his Skater Powerboats 318 catamaran powered by twin Mercury Racing 450R engines to the event and ran around with Mears, who owns a Skater 308 with twin Mercury Racing Verado 400R engines. “We had a great time with Craig and Patti and the crew as usual. It was pretty cool, too, because our friend, Shane McFall from Florida, had the best poker hand. It’s the first time one of Craig and Patti’s friends have won anything in the poker run so they were excited.

“I’m not sure if there were as many boats here as in past years and I don’t know if that was because of the change in ownership or the years without the event, but it was still fun,” he added. “We went out Thursday and Friday and opted to avoid the rain on Saturday. The stops on Friday didn’t seem that busy but the atmosphere everywhere we went was still lively.”

While he enjoys looking at all kinds of boats—and there was an incredible variety of sportboats, center consoles and catamarans in the mix from the likes of MTI, Statement, Eliminator, Sunsation, Concept, Outerlimits, Baja, Nor-Tech, DCB, Fountain, Nordic, Mystic, Cigarette, LaveyCraft, Donzi and more—Jirik, of course, was most interested in checking out all of the catamarans from Skater at the event. “There were a lot of nice Skaters down there,” he said, and he wasn’t joking as you can see in the slideshow below.

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Take a look at several of the Skater Powerboats catamarans that participated in the event in the slideshow above.

“Everyone knows it’s a Skater Nation,” exclaimed Alabama’s Mike Goldbaugh, who owns the LATE FEE$ X2 Skater 368 with his wife, Angela, in response to a question about how many radical Skaters were at the event. “Seriously, we have a lot of them around here—everything from old and new with big-blocks and with outboards. There’s a good mix. Even Nate (Michel) has one now. I think we had five or six of them docked at our house last week.”

Regulars at the Tickfaw 200 Poker Run for close to 20 years, the Goldbaughs ran their all-white 36-footer during the event and had their all-white 34-foot Nor-Tech center console parked next to it at the camp that they own with their good friend, Louisiana’s Kort Wittich, who also has a Skater—a stunning 38-footer named Back 2 Kort.

“This was our first Tickfaw with the new camp and it was so much fun, maybe a little too much fun,” Goldbaugh said then laughed. “I don’t think the new group missed a beat. There seemed to be a lot of boats although I thought there would be more based on the social media chatter around it. Who knows, maybe I just didn’t look in the right places or maybe we just hung out at the camp too much? Either way, we had an incredible time at an event we never want to miss.”

Goldbaugh added that he loved seeing the “new” Skater his friend, James Branton, was running around in and kept docked at their camp through the weekend. Featured in a speedonthewater.com story on Thursday, Branton’s 2019-model-year 388 got a new paintjob and interior, plus engine enhancements, just in time for his hometown event. His other good friends, Bill Pyburn and Fallon Thibodeaux, had their new MTI-V 50 luxury performance center console powered by five of Mercury Racing’s new V-10 400R engines parked at the docks, too, and Goldbaugh also drooled over that one.

Daniel and Tara Laborde enjoyed running their new Mystic M4200 in their hometown event.

Another eye-catching new luxury performance center console at the event was a bright blue Mystic Powerboats M4200 with four of the new Mercury Racing 400R engines that is owned by local performance boaters Daniel and Tara Laborde.

“Although the weather was not the best, we had an amazing time with family and friends,” said Daniel Laborde, who took delivery of the boat—his family’s second 42-footer from the DeLand, Fla., manufacturer—less than two months ago. “Our good friends from North Carolina, Joey and Cathy Simpson, were in town to join us for this event. We started our Thursday run to New Orleans and Slidell early and got a full day of sun and fun. On Friday and Saturday, we got a later start to wait out the rain.

“Rain or shine, the Tickfaw 200 is always a great time,” he added. “It was fun in the new boat. We opted for quad Mercury 400R engines and we’re very pleased with the power. We also added a sea keeper, which is nice. I give all the credit to my wife, Tara, for the design choices on the boat. It turned out great.”

Troya Milton, who helped organize the event with the marina’s new owners, Greg Alack and Ronnie Duncan, said she was in awe over all of the cool boats on the water.

“We had an amazing turnout—we ended up with more than 250 poker hands and the whole weekend was a blast,” Milton said. “You could barely walk in Boopalus all weekend; it was shoulder to shoulder.”

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Check out the slideshow above for many images from the Tickfaw 200 Poker Run.

While exact donation amounts have yet to be determined, the event, which by the way is the only time Blood River Landing and it’s one-of-a-kind Fun House opens to the public, has been established as a Louisiana non-profit 501(c)3 organization with a mission to improve its local community by providing services, resources and funding to its citizens, law enforcement and related charitable organizations.

“We hope to announce donation details soon,” Milton said. “We’re also going to get an earlier start with next year’s planning while things are still fresh.”

Considering the challenge of trying to return an event that was dormant for three years to even close to form, which they did, the organizers appear to be on the right track. Time will tell what they can do with less hurdles to clear and a year of experience behind them.

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