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Oneida Lake Chicken Wing Run Bounces Back

A fine way to finish out the season for powerboat enthusiasts in the Northeast, the ninth annual Oneida Lake Chicken Wing Run was scrubbed last year thanks to the pandemic. But lead organizer Ron Forbus and his team, which included his wife, Jeanette, their daughter, Gianna and eight volunteers, brought it back last weekend and for 167 powerboat owners and their guests the event’s return was decidedly welcome.

Though it didn’t break the 213-boat event record, last weekend’s Oneida Lake Chicken Wing Run attracted almost 170 boats for a day on the water.

“It’s the most ‘equal opportunity’ poker run on the East Coast,” said Chris Fisher, one of the organizers of the Lake Champlain Poker Run in Burlington, Vt., who participated in the event for the fifth time this year. “Big boat or small, Ron welcomes them all.

“For us, the four-and-a-half hour drive west is worth it because the run is all about boating—not trailer shows, not stereo wars, not tow-rig competitions, boating,” he continued. “Even though the run is only about 16 miles or so long, It’s 16 miles of testosterone for 20 minutes and the hosts and event staff do a great job of making it fun, simple and inviting. And at times, that’s all it takes to be successful.”

Upstate New York’s Ken and Renee Lalonde brought their DCB Performance  Boats M37R catamaran and even newer Nor-Tech 390 Sport center console to the event.

Though Forbus and company had hoped to break the event record of 200-plus entries, that wasn’t in the cards this weekend.

“The boat count was down but we had more people overall,” he said.

For Ron and Jeanette Forbus and their organizing team, the Oneida Lake Chicken Wing Run is a labor of love.

Still, they had a record-setting 429 people for lunch, sold out their event-branded gear and saw 120 folks attend the Sylvan Beach dinner celebration. Post-cost proceeds for the event go to the Sylvan Beach Fire and Rescue Department, though Forbus doesn’t yet have a donation total from this year’s run he said he expects it to be well into the five-figure range. Funds donated from the event in years past have enabled the first responders to purchase side-scanning sonar equipment, a personal watercraft setup for rescue operations and more.

“All of the profits—100 percent—from this run go to the Sylvan Beach Fire and Rescue, and they apply all the funds to water rescue equipment only,” said Forbus.

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