Your go-to source for performance boating.
HomeEvent CoverageHartwell Lake Poker Run Hits High Note With Raffle After Poker Game Prohibited

Hartwell Lake Poker Run Hits High Note With Raffle After Poker Game Prohibited

Although Meals on Wheels–Anderson, the organization behind the ninth annual Hartwell Lake Poker Run that took place June 8-9 at Big Water Marina in Starr, S.C., was notified by local authorities two weeks before the event that a poker game could not be conducted due to new state legislation, the board of directors behind the event didn’t let that impede the fun and games.


More than 150 boats attended the ninth annual Hartwell Lake Poker Run in South Carolina. All photos by Jacob Davis/LakeLifeFotos

According Laurie Ashley, executive director of Meals on Wheels–Anderson, the group did some research and found that it could legally hold a raffle, so instead of playing poker, it did a raffle drawing that worked out just as well. With 153 registered boats on Hartwell Lake, which borders Georgia and South Carolina, the event didn’t miss a beat. And as you can see by the images captured by LakeLifeFotos photographer Jacob Davis, the weather was great and everyone had a safe and fantastic time on the water.

“The event returned to Big Water Marina this year and we had four food vendors along with several sponsor vendors showcasing their products,” Ashley said. “We started with a fun run on Friday with boats meeting up at the Highway 24 bridge and continuing on to Hartwell Marina. We planned to visit Clemson Marina but the water level was too high. After lunch everyone boated back to Big Water Marina for a raft-up, then that evening we had a captains meeting and a live auction that raised more than $4,000. A fun local band—The Eric Scott Band—capped off the Friday evening festivities.”

Following another captains meeting on Saturday morning, the participants boated out of the cove and into the large body of water in front of the dam. Boaters faster than 50 mph were signaled to start and once those cleared out, the below-50-mph boats were sent on their way. The event included five stops to pick up coupons, which were returned to Big Water that evening in exchange for raffle tickets. Ashley said three different bands performed throughout the day and that patrons were able to check out the vendors and participate in the first “Poker is a Royal Flush” Olympics, which included stick horse races, hoola hoop competitions and balloon tosses.

Check out 20 more images captured by Jacob Davis during the Hartwell Lake Poker Run in the slideshow above.

South Carolina’s Todd Campbell, who is on the event’s board of directors, said he and his wife, Debby, had a great time participating in the event and hosting friends and family aboard their new MTI-V 57 luxury performance center console powered by quad Mercury Racing Verado 400R engines.

“I’ve been involved every year and I continue to do so because all of the money stays here in Anderson County with an organization, Meals on Wheels, that doesn’t waste money or spend it on a bunch of administrative stuff,” Campbell said. “I also like that it’s a fun, family event. We have a low-cost entry fee so that it is affordable for everyone. We want to keep it to where families can come out and have a great time for a small fee. It really worked out well this year—the weather was great and I think people had fun with the games that were geared toward adults and children.”

At the helm of the pace boat for the start of Saturday morning’s run, Campbell said he had 32 people aboard his 57-footer, including Ashley.

“There were a lot of boats in town this year and I’m happy to say everyone was safe and had a great time,” Campbell added. “The three raffle winners ended up donating back the money they won, which is always a good thing for the event.”

Ashley said the final tally raised by the Hartwell Lake event was close to $60,000. She added that the Meals on Wheels–Anderson team is looking forward to the 10th anniversary of the event and plans to hold it on the second weekend in June again (June 7-8).

Related stories
Meals On Wheels Expecting Another 200-Plus-Boat Hartwell Lake Poker Run
Hartwell Lake Poker Run For Meals On Wheels Reaches New Heights