Following the success of the Lake Erie Offshore Performance Association Thunderfest Poker Run to Put-in-Bay, Ohio, during the first weekend of August, the organization, which is gathering at the end of this month (August 26) for its annual Fall Fun Run from Ford Yacht Club in Grosse Ile, Mich., to Brownie's on the Lake in St. Clair Shores, Mich., put the news out that it is planning to do the run to Put-in-Bay again next year, with registration opening later in September.

leopa pib17a

Michigan's Bill and Lori Lemanske had a great time in the Thunderfest Poker Run to Put-in-Bay. Photo by Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix

leopa pib17vertAccording to Nikole Gilstorf, LEOPA’s treasurer, this year's event went well despite some challenges with watercraft advisory concerns that ended up not being an issue for Saturday's run to the popular Put-in-Bay.

“We had a real good time overall, especially considering our weather forecast wasn't great,” said Gilstorf, who added that the association is still sorting through the event’s financials to determine what proceeds are going to be donated to the Autistic Children of America. “Because of some watercraft advisories, we cancelled Friday’s run and decided to skip the first stop on Saturday and start a little later in the morning. The weather concerns scared off a handful of the 75 boats we had pre-registered—67 in all did the run—but the event was still fantastic.

According to Todd Fountain, a longtime LEOPA member who brought Tom Cat, his 46-foot Skater Powerboats catamaran, everyone seemed to have a great time.

“The water was a little bumpy at the beginning but we pushed the start back and it laid down and turned into a perfect day,” said Fountain, who has been a club member since 1997. “Joe and Nikole Gilstorf and the rest of the team did an amazing job with the run. We’ll be back next year for sure.”

Gilstorf said the Saturday festivities at Niagara Events Center in Put-in-Bay were a hit as was Friday’s VIP Party sponsored by American Custom Marine.

A few lucky participants—notably Mike Knoblock, the owner of American Custom Marine—went home as poker run winners. The first-place hand went to Knoblock, and the second, third and fourth best hands were awarded to Jordan Harris, Ray Crooks and Brian Nuseaum, respectively.

Check out the slideshow above for more images from the LEOPA Thunderfest Poker Run.

“We definitely had fun organizing the run, but it’s hard work,” Gilstorf said. “Fortunately we had a great group of participants who told us they were going to have a good time even if the weather didn’t cooperate. We definitely couldn’t have done this without a great team in place so we’d like to thank Kevin and Pam Towle, Jeff and Teri Upholzer, Carri and Brian Bunch, Rob Turner, Larry Waddles, and Lynn Keller and Phil Hahn—two of the founding members of LEOPA.”

Gilstorf said LEOPA plans to announce the dates for next year’s run soon and expects to open registration toward the end of September.

Related stories
LEOPA Thunderfest Poker Run Returning to Put-In-Bay