Poker Run Benefiting Veterans Held in Ferndale on May 29

Event includes barbecue and silent auction, raises money for local veteran groups

By Myers Reece

Billed as the “largest motorcycle gathering in Montana,” the 12th annual Montana Legends Memorial Poker Run to benefit veterans is scheduled for May 29.

Organizer JP Pettigrew is hoping to see more than 200 motorcycles and 400 people overall, including spectators. The event starts and ends at the A Bar at the intersection of Highways 83 and 209 in Ferndale.

Signup begins at 11 a.m., with motorcyclists taking off at 1 p.m. to start the poker run, which will take them to bars in the Swan Valley, Lakeside and Bigfork before returning to the A Bar.

The event has raised well over $100,000 for veterans since Pettigrew and others launched it in 2009 following the deaths of friends Richard Fliehler and Mitchell Kopczyk, who passed away in a car accident near Ferndale that year.

“All of the money goes toward local veterans,” Pettigrew said, adding that their main focus is “homeless and underprivileged veterans.”

The event benefits a variety of local veteran groups, including the Northwest Montana Veterans Stand Down and Food Pantry in Evergreen. In addition to the poker run, the May 29 festivities also include a silent auction with hundreds of items donated by local businesses, as well as a barbecue and live music. A 2004 Harley-Davidson Road King will also be raffled.

Pettigrew will fire up the smoker on Friday to begin preparing pulled-pork sandwiches. Food offered at the barbecue will also include burgers, brats and a host of homemade sides, such as potato salad, coleslaw and beans.

Pettigrew said anybody is welcome to join as a spectator or participant, even if their two-wheeled transportation doesn’t have an engine.

“But it might be hard to keep up with us on a bicycle,” he said.

For more information, including how to donate, call Pettigrew at (406) 261-3043 or Katie Burns at (406) 249-7279.

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