UPDATE: The Poker Paddle detailed below has been unceremoniously canceled by the Newport Area Chamber of Commerce. Requests for information have not been returned. A note of the event's Facebook Page indicates refunds will be issued for those who preregistered.
PADDLING – The 36th annual Pend Oreille River Poker Paddle will launch on Aug. 5, but organizers are offering incentives to register before July 31.
Formerly a two-day event, this sometimes zany gathering has been honed to one day on the Pend Oreille River Water Trail.
Speed isn’t the key to the prizes offered. Boaters in any type of nonmotorized craft navigate to stations and collect cards for a poker hand. Luckless participants who can’t even draw a pair of deuces still might win the best costume category.
Sign up by July 31 and receive an extra poker hand to increase chance of winning prizes. The grand prize is a night stay at Northern Quest Casino and dinner for two at Maselow’s.
The flotilla will set out at 10 a.m. on Aug. 5 from Gregg’s Addition on the west side of the river. Entrants will proceed downstream at their own pace to beach at Cusick Park.
“This is the same weekend as the Kalispel Tribe’s Pow Wow,” said Mike Lithgow, Pend Oreille County community development director. “Hopefully paddlers will take the opportunity to drive over to the Reservation and enjoy some fry bread and buffalo after winning some amazing prizes at the paddle.”
The Spokane Canoe & Kayak Club has entered a team canoe in the past and the Kalispel Tribe is looking into paddling a Coastal style cedar canoe they built, Lithgow said.
Entry is $35 for adults, $25 for youths.
Sign up: newportareachamber.com/poker-paddle