Welcome Back Weekend is an annual event celebrated at Grand Lake, OK This event was started in March of 1992, by Terry Frost, the previous Owner of Cherokee Yacht Club. The weekend originally started with a poker run on Saturday and the showing of the hands on Sunday. Grand Lakers’ Terry Frost and the late Barbara Connor came up with the idea of incorporating a Chamber sponsored “Casino Night”, which became an instant success.The idea behind Welcome Back Weekend is to get you back on the lake so you can enjoy Grand Lake more of the year. The event is not just a party anymore; it has come to signify the beginning of boating season on Grand Lake.
Although Grand Lake is always open to the public....Welcome Back weekend is the official Celebration of the coming season!
The official and annual re-opening of Grand Lake, dubbed Welcome Back Weekend for over twenty years, is scheduled to unfold March 2nd. The traditional Poker Run, an event which attracted nearly 400 participants in the event’s inaugural year, remains the backbone of one of the most popular off season weekends ever unveiled on Oklahoma’s premiere lake.
In recent years, the Grand Lake Area Chamber of Commerce has partnered up with the poker run and utilized the big weekend to stage a fund raising event. This year’s event has expanded even further with the Girlfriends of the South Grand Lake Regional Airport sponsoring a breakfast to benefit the airport at Arrowhead Yacht Club.
Things get off to a quick start with the breakfast getting underway at 8:00am. Chef Mark and his staff from Arrowhead Yacht Club will be serving up pancakes and the trimmings until the scheduled start of the Poker Run at approximately 10:00am. The cost of breakfast is $7.00 per person.
The breakfast will also serve as the launching site for the Poke Run with the rules for the day being distributed to the participants. This year’s competition will be conducted as in past years with tokens being picked up at each of the stops, which includes Arrowhead Yacht Club, Harbors View Marina, Dick Lanes, Thunder Bay Marina, Cedar Port Marina, Hammerhead Marina, Grand Lake Boat Sales, Shangri-La Marina and concluding at the Cherokee Yacht Club, and then exchanged for playing cards to determine the winning hands. One new wrinkle this year will be the awarding of a wild card for each participant purchasing a ticket to the chamber’s Buccaneer Ball.
The winning hands will be announced at the Buccaneer Ball later that evening with first place claiming a $2000 vacation voucher, second place being awarded a dual membership to the Cherokee and Arrowhead Yacht Clubs and third place taking home $500 in cash. The Buccaneer Ball will serve as headquarters for a fun-filled evening for the awarding of prizes, dancing with live music by the Barrett Lewis Band from Tulsa, a Hooker’s Game Tournament with qualifying participants battling it out in the finals for a 50/50 cash prize later in the evening, a live and silent auction and the master of ceremonies will be Shangri-La Resort’s Mike Williams, who also goes by an alias of sorts when not working his day job.
Some of Grand Lake’s finest have stepped forward as major sponsors of the event as in the Grand River Dam Authority, Grand Lake News Online, The Chronicle of Grand Lake, Serenity Hospice and others are in the works. For information regarding sponsorship opportunities, which includes inclusion in all news articles, company logos included on the official banner and recognition during the Buccaneers Ball, contact chamber executive director Rusty Fleming by calling the chamber office at 918-782-771- or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The fun will get underway at approximately 6:30pm. Advance tickets are $20 per person and can be purchased at the chamber office or on their web site at www.grandlakechamber.org. Tickets purchased in advance will be available at the chamber office or can be picked up on a will call basis at the door. Ticket purchased at the door will be $25.