In its 28th year, the Fall Harbor Hop in the boating Mecca of the Lake of the Ozarks – the performance stomping grounds for the acclaimed annual LOTO Shootout and Poker Run – took place throughout the 92-mile lake this past October, bringing together hundreds of boaters for a fun-filled day on the water.

In its 28th year, the Fall Harbor Hop in the boating Mecca of the Lake of the Ozarks – the performance stomping grounds for the acclaimed annual LOTO Shootout and Poker Run – took place throughout the 92-mile lake this past October, bringing together hundreds of boaters for a fun-filled day on the water.

Held every year on the second weekend in October, the region came alive with excitement as a wide-array of local and transient boaters came out in full force to begin their journey throughout the lake and vie for the perfect card hand. With approximately 35-40 waterfront businesses participating in the event, many establishments opened early for the 9:00 a.m. start including Gas Hole at Beauty View, The Westport Yacht Club, Formula Boats of Missouri, and Miller’s Landing Bar, Grill and Fuel, just to name a few.

By 12 Noon, the players were in full boating mode as the lake was busy with every type of boat imaginable, visiting local businesses, and enjoying the boating lifestyle at the various hot spots throughout the lake. Hosted and sponsored by The Lake of the Ozarks Convention and Visitor Bureau, Lake of the Ozarks Marine Dealers Association and the Lakes Waterfront Restaurants, the event is not a poker run nor a race, but a “poker hop” where participants cruise from any one of the several card stops on the lake at their leisure in efforts to draw a perfect seven-card poker hand and vie for a chance to win a series of prizes. The players donate $15.00 per hand and can start to play their first card at any one of the sponsoring businesses along the main channel and at Big Niangua and Gravois Arms.

Here, a participant plays his hand.
Here, a participant plays his hand.

According to event organizers, a hand is complete when the seventh card is drawn while an optional eighth bonus card can be drawn for an additional $5. Once the hand is completed, players turn their hands in at one of the four checkpoints on the lake (where the 7th card is drawn) that included Gravois Arm (section 1), The Main Channel (Section II and III), and Main Channel and Big Niangua Arm (Section IV).

To qualify, card hands must be turned in by 7:00 p.m. at any one of the local participating businesses and unlike similar events (and with so many particpants), the winners are contacted by mail or e-mail weeks following the Harbor Hop.

Prizes are based on entry donations and The Lake of the Ozarks Convention & Visitor Bureau retains 60 percent for administering the program and promotion of the Lake of the Ozarks while 40 percent goes to the winning participants in the form of gift certificates.

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Coming in after enjoying a day on the water.

“The event is a great opportunity for visitors and locals to get out on the Lake and enjoy the amazing fall foliage,” says Heather Brown, Director of Member Services for the Lake of the Ozarks Convention and Visitor Bureau. “At the Harbor Hop, we always guarantee a good time and we encourage everyone to come join the fun and enjoy the beautiful lake.”

“I have been doing the Harbor Hop for 20 years now and they do a great job every year,” added John Pfahl of the Bravo Shop, based in Kaiser, MO. “The beauty of the event is there are approximately 45 miles of card stops along the lake with every type of boat imaginable, ranging from open bows and large cruisers to 40-foot MTIs. It’s just a great day on the water for everyone who participates.”

For more information about the Harbor Hop and other events, attractions, shopping, lodging and dining at Central Missouri’s scenic Lake of the Ozarks, visit www.funlake.com or call 1-800-FUN-LAKE (386-5253).