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Ride for Autism coming to town

NATCHEZ — The eighth annual Ride for Autism, a two-day motorcycle poker run and concert, will be Friday and Saturday and is open to all make and model motorcycles, street-legal vehicles and classic cars.

The ride will travel from Lafayette to Natchez with all activities, including a concert, at Doc BigLove’s on Main Street.

“The event strives to increase public awareness about the mysterious affliction and raises money to help those families dealing with autism,” said Donald D. Royer, Project Independence board member and events coordinator. “All proceeds benefit Project Independence, an autism support group staffed entirely by volunteers which means that every penny raised goes to the cause.”

Royer said the concert in Natchez from 7 to 10 p.m. on Saturday night will feature Nashville’s all-girl group called Shelly Bush and BroadBAND. The concert is free to all ride participants, along with the complimentary meal being provided by the City of Natchez, Royer said.

Royer’s wife, Barb, said the Ride for Autism took riders to Biloxi, but that changed six years ago.

“The tourist venues are better in Natchez,” Barb Royer said. “Natchez has wonderful restaurants and lots of antiques and things to look at. (The riders) really like coming to Natchez.”

Fat Momma’s Tamales on Canal Street will be the gathering spot on Friday in Natchez. Fat Mama’s will be hosting the riders with food and drink specials, Royer said.

“One of the high points of the fundraiser will be the auctioning of the autographed guitar donated by country star Clay Walker,” Royer said. He said while the silent auction will be at Doc BigLove’s, bids can be placed online at www.projectindependence.org.

Other items will be auctioned, including as a Harley-Davidson T-shirt autographed by Sarah Palin, Meguiar’s products, Harley items and more. Prizes and freebies will also be distributed.

Registration kicks off with an open house at Cajun Harley-Davidson in Scott, La., on Thursday with a complimentary jambalaya dinner from 6 to 8 p.m. The open house also offers an opportunity to learn about autism and Project Independence’s work.

Local registration will be at Doc BigLove’s in Natchez for $35 per person, which includes a poker hand, ride pin and free concert. Registration is open at Doc BigLove’s from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. A poker hand must be purchased for admission to the concert and other festivities.

Mrs. Lafayette, Dana Fontenot, has donated her time to serve as the ride’s grand Marshall.

All information about the ride is available on the website or by calling Project independence at 985-427-0239 or 337-303-6418.

**PHOTO: Mrs. Lafayette, Dana Fontenot, donated her time to serve as the ride’s grand Marshall. Fontenot is pictured holding a guitar signed by country music star Clay Walker. Photo courtesy of Judy Drummond.