For any number of great reasons, the Boyne Thunder Poker Run in Northern Michigan presents a blueprint of success for standalone go-fast boating events. Heading into what would have been its 17th year this July, the Boyne City event blends the elements of an idyllic venue, passionate participants with some of the world’s finest hardware and serving a host of worthy local charities. No performance boat gathering has ever done it better, and for that the boating community has the Boyne Thunder organizing committee and its 62-year-old chairman Bob Alger to thank.
With the pressure of Michigan’s COVID-19 restrictions bearing down on them, Alger and the committee members pulled the plug on the 2020 event in April. This was Alger’s final year as committee chair and his seventh year in the role since joining the committee as a member in 2007. Much as he wanted to exit after a successful event, that wasn’t an option. But Alger remains grateful for the experience as well as everything he learned along the way.
Cancelling this year’s Boyne Thunder Poker Run must have been difficult for everyone involved.
It was. What started happening is that festivals, including one in Boyne City and one in Gaylord, were being cancelled. The big cherry festival in Traverse City, which is probably the biggest festival in the state, was cancelled. Charlevoix cancelled its Venetian Festival, which is the week after our event, and we have our lunch in Charlevoix. If we waited for them to pull our permit, what kind of message would that send to Charlevoix, which mostly likes having us there? If we want to maintain that relationship, why put them in that position? Ultimately, we couldn’t wait for the Main Street group or anyone else to make the decision for us. We had to do it as a committee.
From my perspective, I was worried about the crowds we have in various areas during our event. I did not want someone to get sick, maybe deadly sick, from this event on my watch. So we made the decision to cancel.
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