This weekend marks Kingston’s 30th annual Thousand Island Poker Run, which will bring boaters and spectators from all over North America to the area.
More than 50 high-powered speedboats will leave Confederation Basin at 10 a.m. Saturday, potentially hitting speeds of more than 130 km/h, though some boats can apparently reach up to 190 km/h.
There will be five stops between Kingston and Prescott. Teams will collect one playing card per stop, with each boater trying to collect the best poker hand by the end of the day.
The Thousand Islands poker run is America’s oldest race of its kind, and events like it have now spread across the continent.
But Bill Taylor, president of Poker Runs America, said the Ontario event is special.
“Thousand Islands has always been one of the number one spots (for) poker runs worldwide. Some 60,000 people come to this event.”
Michèle Langlois from Downtown Kingston BIA said the event is an economic boon to the area, bringing in an average of $2.5 million each year.
“A lot on hospitality — so hotel rooms, restaurants, entertainment, for sure. But retail does really well too,” Langlois said. “It’s really important for our retailers that this event stays in Kingston.”
The competition ends Saturday night, but on Sunday, the public can jump on one of the boats, from $200 a ride. The money will be donated to a local charity.