Bonanza Extravaganza offers 'chance to get away'
Martinsburg, W.Va., residents Mike DeHaven, bottom left, and his daughter-in-law Erika DeHaven, bottom right, play The Clear Spring Volunteer Fire Co. Pill Pull game during the opening night of the 2013 Bonanza Extravaganza at the Hagerstown Speedway. (By Joe Crocetta/Staff Photographer / May 10, 2013)
The siblings said they arrived at the track at around 2 p.m., set up their tents and patiently waited out a Friday rainstorm that turned the camping area into a wet mess.
“It’s going to be like sleeping in a swamp,” Sondra Rohm said. “But it’s not camping unless you’re sleeping in a tent.”
The Bonanza Extravaganza has been staged by local firefighters for the last eight years to raise money for nonprofit organizations, said John Murray, president of International Association of Fire Fighters Local 1605 Foundation.
He said the event, which features the raffling of automobiles, motorcycles and a $100,000 grand prize, has raised nearly $800,000 for nonprofits since its inception.
“We’re excited to be able to put on an event that a lot of people enjoy coming out to — an event that brings a lot of people to Washington County and the Hagerstown area,” he said.
Murray said that despite the wet weather, he anticipated about 8,000 people would attend.
Plenty of large tents were set up to accommodate the visitors, and more than 40 vendors were on hand to sell food and other items.
In addition to roulette wheels and other gaming, Friday’s festivities included 20 $1,000 raffles.
Starting at 11:45 a.m. today, the Bonanza will start giving away $1,000 every five minutes, and raffle off, among other things, seven Harley-Davidson motorcycles and eight Chevrolets.
People who buy a $100 ticket also will have a chance to win the $100,000 grand prize.
“We’re going to have fun all day long,” Murray said.
He said a lot of people attend the Bonanza not only for the gaming, but to hear live music and camp out. All 150 campsites, he said, sold out in February. Each lot cost $50 for the weekend.
Joe Rohm said he has been camping at the event for the past four years, and continues to enter the raffles even though he has never won.
“There’s good food and it’s a good time,” he said. “You meet new people and have a chance to win a car or a Harley.”
Joe and Sondra Rohm’s mother, Anna Rohm, said she started attending the Bonanza around 2009. Since then, some her friends from a pool league have joined in the fun.
“It’s a chance to get away,” she said. “I don’t drink much beer, so I come for the fun.”