Photo Gallery: A Night At The Howard, The Bago Big Bet’s Ace In The Hole

Photo Gallery: A Night At The Howard, The Bago Big Bet’s Ace In The Hole

As previously reported, this weekend’s inaugural Bago Big Bet Poker Run in Oshkosh, Wis., was an exercise in adaptation thanks to the weather. If the Mercury Racing-presented event were to have a future, Shannon Higgins and her tiny band of organizers needed to finish strong. Established events can have“off” years, especially if weather is the culprit.

But new ones have no such luxury.

Swanky, cool and retro, The Howard stole the show at the inaugural Bago Big Bet event presented by Mercury Racing. Photos by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.

Harsh as that may seem, it’s the simple truth. Even when worthy charities benefit, the go-fast boating event business is as competitive as any other business.

So the pressure was on the local organizing team to deliver something special at The Howard—a posh Oshkosh venue—for last night’s closing “white party” celebration, poker-hand play and auction benefitting the K9s For Warriors program, “the nation’s largest provider of service dogs for veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, traumatic brain injury and/or military sexual trauma,” according to its website.

The Howard is a breathtaking venue.

And that was exactly what they did.

“Isn’t this place incredible?” Devin Wozencraft, one of the event’s sponsors, asked a nearby reporter.

The reporter nodded.

The organizers invited a special guest to the affair, which will benefit K9s For Warriors to the tune of approximately $26,000 thanks to the generosity of the participants.

Wozencraft’s rhetorical question nailed the prevailing sentiment in the room. Restored to perfection and complete with its own 10-lane, basement bowling alley where the party moved to long after the reporter had gone to bed, the place was incredible.

Captured here with his Wozencraft Insurance Agency partner Tanah Kinsey, Devin Wozencraft was—like everyone who enjoyed the celebration—dazzled by The Howard.

Every successful go-fast boating event has its own “hook.” For Boyne Thunder Poker Run in Michigan, it is the idyllic setting of a small town and the pristine waters beyond. For the Kuttawa Cannonball Run, it is Southern hospitality and charm. For the Florida Powerboat Club Key West Poker Run it is—go figure—Key West.

For the Bago Big Bet, it could well end up being the closing celebration at The Howard.

Properly fed and watered—as they were last night at The Howard—happy guests are generous guests.

That’s no slight on Lake Winnebago—the out-of-towners who got the most they could out of it and most said they’d love to come back and run it on a sunny day. But now that the first Bago Big Bet is in the books, The Howard is the definable hook for the event.

And for now at least, that might just be enough.

(Center) Using his cocktail as a visual aid, offshore racer and Wisconsinite Vinnie Diorio discussed the finer points of Lake Winnebago with New York’s Shane Mahieu and his son, Blake.

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