Popular races return to Bertie's Inn

2011 file photo by Dawn Wivell

The 22nd annual Bertie's Inn Belt Sander Race to raise money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society is scheduled for Saturday, July 14. It is truly a one-of-a-kind fundraiser.

The belt sander race was started as an extension of the Ugly Bartender Contest. Looking for something unique, co-owners Peter and Anne Thomas added the belt sander race the second year they participated in the contest. Although the Ugly Bartender Contest no longer exists, the belt sander race continues to be a popular event that raises approximately $10,000 for the MS Society each year.

Bertie's donates the proceeds from all the food and non-alcoholic beverages purchased the day of the race. Plus they sell T-shirts and request entrance donations. And of-course each of the teams raises money and pays an entrance fee.

So, what is a belt sander race?

Each team designates a 'driver' to represent them. That 'driver' heroically (or maybe insanely would be more accurate) agrees to ride a belt sander that has been fitted with a wooden 'seat' down a 40-foot wooden track in a series of double-elimination races. Some participants look like they were born sitting on a modified belt sander, some progress down the track in a start and stop fashion, and some fall off the minute the sander begins to move. But everyone – participants and spectators alike – has fun and has the satisfaction of knowing they are raising money for a great cause.

Peter Thomas says all that's needed to participate in the race is a sense of the ridiculous.

Peter credits the success of the event to the approximately 42 volunteers who help set up the track and the bleachers, power the belt sanders, sweep the track, serve the food and more. Without their help, the event could never take place.

Berties is located at 160 Old Friedensburg Rd., Exeter Township. Check out their website – www.BertiesInn.com - for photographs from previous races. For more information and details about forming your own team, call 610-779-5797.

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