Casey Harrison, the affable co-organizer of the annual Tickfaw 200 Poker Run in Springfield, La., woke up to a firestorm on Monday. Based on restaurant and bar COVID-19 capacity and mask restrictions, he was planning to announce that he and fellow longtime Tickfaw organizer Joey Fontenot were cancelling the April 28-May 1 event on the bayou. But after a candid conversation on Sunday with their local fire-marshal, Fontenot decided there was no point in waiting any longer and announced the cancellation yesterday.
For the second year in a row, high-performance powerboat owners won’t have the chance to boil the waters of Blood River in late April under the Tickfaw 200 Poker Run banner. Photo by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
Though the timing caught Harrison by surprise, the decision did not—and he is completely on board with it. Neither he nor Fontenot wanted to have to scrub their event for the second year in a row. But with restaurants restricted to 75 percent indoor capacity, bars cut to 25 percent indoor capacity and outdoor areas limited to 50 people—and sit-down service required for food and drink at all venues—there was no way the organizers could assure participant compliance, much less guarantee it to secure permits and insurance for their event.
And Crazy Charlie’s Fun House at Blood River Landing and Marina, which serves as Tickfaw 200 Poker Run headquarters, would have been closed throughout the event.
“I got a little blindsided here this morning,” Harrison said yesterday, then chuckled. “But we are 100 percent on the same page. The reality of it was that the fire marshal said he wasn’t going to sign off on it. And there’s also no possible way the people who come to our event would be able to stay within those guidelines. He suggested we push it back two or three months, but we wouldn’t do that because it would just conflict with someone else’s event.
“The situation is changing daily,” he continued. “But even if we waited a month, we wouldn’t have enough time to plan. No matter how we go about this, there are people who are going to be mad it didn’t happen. And then if in April all the restrictions suddenly get lifted, there will be people saying we could have done it anyway. But we can’t just ‘do it anyway.’ Anyone can boat on the river at any time, that’s true, but to produce an event we need permits and insurance.”
A simple endurance-running event Harrison helped produce last weekend further convinced him that moving forward with the poker run would we be a mistake. The event wasn’t allowed to have entertainment or a food/display village. Spectators were not allowed. Family members were only allowed access if they had minor-children competing.
“It was absolutely miserable,” he said. “We made it work and people were happy they got to run. But it was show up, run and go home. Unless you were running, it wasn’t any fun. My eyes opened a lot more after that experience.”