So what IS the Poker Paddle anyhow? We've been getting that question a lot, especially from a lot of our local friends who have never participated in or even seen the Poker Paddle on the Pend Oreille River (even though it's now in its 31st year!). We've made a bunch of changes this year, to make it more South County focused, family friendly and inclusive.
It's a One-day Paddle down the Pend Oreille River
Instead of a two day, overnight event, we've shortened it to a one-day event. But we've timed it to coincide with a weekend of fun in the area - a Street Party in downtown Newport, Treasure Hunt sales event in Newport & Oldtown, the Oldtown Lawnmower Races and the County Fair happening up in Cusick. Whether you're paddling or just cheering on family or friends, we hope you'll stay the weekend and enjoy all the fun local happenings! Canoes, kayaks or other non-motorized watercraft all welcome. Even paddleboards would work!
Launching from Newport/Oldtown
Our launch spot this year is right at the start of the Pend Oreille River Water Trail. We'll launch from Oldtown Rotary Park, located just East of the David Thompson Bridge as you leave Oldtown en route to Sandpoint on Hwy 2. There is ample free parking, launch space and restrooms (and camping available by donation) and that's where the kayak rental kiosk for one of our sponsors, Bear Naked Adventures kayak rental, is located. Participants can launch any time between 7am and 10am on Saturday August 18th (and must check in either on Friday night at the Chamber's Visitor Center between 4:30-7pm or at Rotary Park on Saturday from 6-10am).
With a Pirates of the Pend Oreille Poker Paddle Theme
This year we've adopted a Pirates of the Pend Oreille theme. Come in costume! Trick out your canoe or kayak! Top 3 costumes will receive special prizes. At each stop, adults will compete in a variety of skill-based games to earn a card to complete their eventual poker hand. Kids will compete in various games to earn gold coins to eventually be redeemed for prizes at the Pirate Store located at the Usk Bar & Grill after party. Top poker hands at the end of the event will win great prizes.
Registration is $30/Adult or $15/Child - Register by August 3rd for Special Perks!
Every participant gets a special limited edition Poker Paddle T-shirt. Kids (11 years & younger) also get a free Roxy movie pass. Your entry fee covers event set up costs, promotion, prizes & insurance costs. Children must be accompanied by a registered adult. Register by August 3rd and receive a mystery prize AND a free one-week pass at Club Energy to be used in the fall. Want to increase your chances of winning? You can purchase the chance to compile additional poker hands for only $10/hand.
A Treasure Map will Guide you on your Way - Full or Short Course Options
Upon check in participants will be given a treasure map to guide you on your paddle down the Pend Oreille River. You can do the Full Course (approximately 17 miles ending in Usk) OR do the shorter course that ends at Gregg's Addition (approximately 8 miles) and then you must proceed from there to Usk Bar & Grill to collect your final card, turn in your hand and, for kids, exchange your poker coins for Pirate Treasure. Please note: If you choose to do the shorter course, you will have 6 cards from which to make your best 5 card hand. Those who do the full course will have 2 more stops at which to earn cards, giving them 8 cards to choose from to make their hand.
Washington law requires that every canoe, kayak, etc. have a US Coast Guard approved life jacket for every person in the vessel, within easy reach at all times. All children 12 years and younger must wear their life jacket at all times while in the vessel. Alcohol is not permitted while paddling the river and coolers will be checked at the outset of the race. If you need to borrow a life jacket, the PUD has some available to borrow for free for the day at Oldtown Rotary Park boat launch (on a first come, first served basis). Bear Naked Adventures also has some available for rent for a nominal charge. All vessels must also have a noise-emitting device (ie whistle or horn - a screaming child doesn't cut it) and, if operated between dusk and dawn, a light-emitting device.
Wrap Up Party, Pirate Store & Prizes at Usk Bar & Grill
The Poker Paddle wraps up with an after party at the Usk Bar & Grill where you will collect your final card (or coins) and then turn in your hand or redeem your gold coins for Pirate Treasure at the Pirate Store. Usk Bar & Grill will have great food and beverages available for purchase and fun entertainment for all to enjoy. Share stories of your Pirates of the Pend Oreille Poker Paddle experience, give your arms a break and be eligible for some great prizes.
Bear Naked Adventures Offering Return Shuttle Service
One of our sponsors, Bear Naked Adventures, will be offering shuttle service from Usk Bar & Grill back to the Oldtown Rotary Park launch site for $5/person and $5/watercraft. Contact them for more information. They may also be offering service from Gregg's Addition to Usk Bar & Grill for the final stop for those who wish to do the short course.
Get Your Friends & Family Together and Register Now!
We all know that the more, the merrier! So get your friends and family together for a full day of good, clean fun on the Pend Oreille River. And don't forget to register by our early bird deadline of August 3rd to get a free week pass at Club Energy and a special mystery prize. We can't wait to see you out on the water!