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Old Hickory Poker Run Morphing Into Chattanooga Event

Between a chronic problem with debris in the waterway to issues organizers faced with local regulatory agencies, the annual Old Hickory Fun Run, Raft-Up and Bar Crawl happening outside Nashville has seen go-fast boat registrations decline in recent years. According to lead organizer Chad Collier, while the number of participants has increased, fewer and fewer people have been willing to run their own boats in the event for fear of striking a floating hazard in the water.


The Old Hickory Fun Run, Raft-Up and Bar Crawl will be absorbed into the Chattanooga Poker Run in 2020. Photo from the 2018 Old Hickory event courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

Rather than return the event to the problematic waterway, Collier and his friends and fellow Tennessee-based event organizers Justin Lucas, Mark Godsey and Gerald Brown have opted to blend it into the Tennessee Powerboat Club’s Chattanooga Poker Run in 2020. The run is set for July 31-August 1 and will be based out of the city’s waterfront along the Tennessee River.

“Old Hickory is going away for now,” Collier said. “We were getting some attrition—they don’t call it ‘Old Stickory’ for nothing. We were getting fewer boats and, instead, like 10 to 15 people packed onto one center console. But we have a great time slot with dates between the 1,000 Islands Charity Poker Run and the Florida Powerboat Club’s Emerald Coast event. So we are going to ‘move’ and have the Chattanooga Poker Run on those dates.

“It’s a great venue,” he continued. “And that’s a great time to visit to Tennessee.”

“Chattanooga has an awesome riverfront with hotels, nightlife and a lot of good water to run the boats,” Lucas said. “We love downtown Nashville, but when we start losing participants due to lake conditions and people tearing stuff up—or just not being able to run—it becomes a problem.”

Collier, Lucas, Godsey and Brown will divide organizational duties for the event. Proceeds will go to the Children’s Advocacy Center of Chattanooga.

Completely scuttling the Old Hickory happening, which he and his fellow volunteers built into a noteworthy event, was unacceptable for Collier and company.

“We were either going to move it or kill it, and I hated to kill it,” he said. “People plan their summer vacations around it. Chattanooga is going to be a great alternative, and I’m hoping we can get some of the really big boats back.”

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