9th annual poker run to remember Driver woman

Published 10:34 pm Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Just months before Craig Parker organized the first Driver Days festival 17 years ago, his sister Sherri Parker was killed in a hit and run accident doing what she loved most —riding her Harley.

To keep alive the memory of the sister who was never able to partake in the event, Holly Hoffler, Sherri’s sister, and Eddie Boyce, Sherri’s friend, started the Sherri Parker Memorial Poker Run Bike Show nine years ago.

“Our family has been in Driver for five generations, and when we started Driver Days it became an important family day for us,” Hoffler said. “Not having Sherri here has always been hard, but seeing those motorcycles every year — I just look at them and say ‘Sherri would have loved this.’”

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The poker run is on Sunday and begins at Bayside Harley-Davidson. Registration will be from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. The cost to ride is $20 per driver or $10 per passenger.

The ride will take bikers on a 50-mile country drive, and all bikes will stage at the Sleepy Hole Park at 12:30 p.m. to ride into Driver at 1 p.m.

Sherri had been riding since she was about 20 years old.

“Sherri was always a free spirit,” Hoffler said. “You notice everything when you’re on a bike and you can have the worst day and be on a bike for five minutes and it turns your thinking around. She just always loved being on her bike.”

The first year of the event, Hoffler and Boyce were worried no one would come, but they were shocked at the turnout. About 500 bikers participate each year, Hoffler said.

“It’s been such a healing thing for our family,” Hoffler said. “When we see all those bikes, it’s overwhelming. My heart is so filled with love for these people who grew up with us and rode with her. I always get teary-eyed seeing them still showing support for her.”

Proceeds from the event benefit the Suffolk Humane Society, the Driver Volunteer Fire Department and the Sherri Parker Memorial Fund, Inc.

Each year, the memorial fund is used to landscape the entrances to the town.

After the ride, bikers can register and participate in the bike show and enjoy the rest of the day at Driver Days, which runs until 5 p.m. on Sunday.

The 17th annual festival will also include a parade, car show, hot-dog eating contest and children’s activities.

Musical acts Kevin Mac, Lisa Glasscock Miller and Kevin Chisnell, Thunder Creek and Honkytonk Highway and Reform School Dropouts will perform.

The perennial favorite parade will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday, and include the Nansemond River High School marching band, as well as antique cars, golf carts, dance studios and more.

Registration for the car show will begin at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday.

The annual hot dog eating contest will be at 12:30 p.m. at the intersection of Kings Highway and Driver Lane on Sunday. The first place winner will receive a $400 cash prize and trophy. The second place winner will receive a $50 cash prize, a trophy and $20 in coupons for “Nicks Hot Dogs.” The third place winner will receive assorted prizes and coupons.

Children’s activities will include inflatables for the cost of $10 armband or individual tickets, $2 Teddy Bear Express rides and $1 pony rides.

For more information or to register for an event, visit www.driverevents.com.