Joey Fontenot has sold his Blood River Marina—home of the annual Tickfaw 200 event since its inception—to new owners, Speedboat has learned.
Originally known as the River Rat Poker Run, the event was formed in 1996 by “Crazy Charlie” Albert as a way of supporting the community’s local businesses and entities, while providing a fun poker run for avid speedboaters with minimal restrictions or structure, if any. After Albert died in 2009, Fontenot and Casey Harrison have continued to carry on his vision, working together with the Livingston Parish Tourism.
In recent years, however, the Tickfaw 200 has fallen on hard times. In 2020 and 2021, concerns over COVID-19 forced its organizers to cancel the event. Then it was cancelled again this year after Hurricane Ida—a highly destructive Category 4 Atlantic hurricane that hit Louisiana late last August—decimated the entire area, leaving many without homes and the local waterways infested with potentially hazardous debris.
In addition to all of that, Fontenot, 52, has been caring for his ailing wife of 30 years, Kate, who has been battling cancer. So when he was approached by investors about selling the marina—and the Tickfaw 200 right along with it—he decided to accept their offer for the sake of his family. (The Fontenots have two children, son Jesse and daughter Jacqueline.)
“I didn’t want Kate to have to worry about where money was going to come from if something happened to me,” he explains. “That’s basically why I decided to sell.”
The three partners who made the purchase have all been participants of the Tickfaw 200 over the years. They are Chuck Rodgers, an independent retailer, and a pair of restaurateurs, brothers Glen and Greg Alack. Asked what their strategy would be for the future of the event, Rodgers said simply: “We’re going to bring it back next year in full force.”
Rodgers, an independent retailer who moved to Louisiana from his native Mississippi four years ago, says that part of his deal with Fontenot is to enlist his assistance—along with the help of everybody else who has been involved in staging the Tickfaw 200—to make the transition a smooth one as work begins on the 2023 event. (Rodgers owns a pontoon boat powered by twin 300-hp Suzuki outboards.) The new partners are also owners of Tickfaw Village Campground, located near the Tickfaw River’s Killian Bridge. Opening this summer, the campground will offer cabins and storage for boaters and campers, along with a swimming-pool bar.
For his part, Fontenot says he’s upbeat and positive about the sale. “I feel really good,” he says. “The storms were just getting harder and harder on us…but today they handed me a check worth a couple of million dollars and asked me what I planned to do now. I said, ‘I guess I’m gonna go find me a job!’”