Last year, their bar burned down. This year, the Interstate Bridge is closed. But neither has stopped the Road Dog Motorcycle Club from putting on their yearly bash in Bluff Siding, Wis.

This weekend, the group hosts its 20th annual hog roast to benefit veterans.

They know not to depend on good weather and that some years the crowds will be better than others. But there's not much you can do about bad luck.

This year's event kicks off Friday, which happens to be Friday the 13th. Bluff Siding used to be at most a 10-minute trip from Winona. Now, because of the bridge closure, it's at least an hour.

"We've never had anything like this," said Road Dog vice president Rich "Ratt" Ratajczek.

The group's Gin Mill strip club burned down in May of 2007. So far, the foundation has been built but Ratajczek says they're nowhere near ready to reopen. So for now, they're concentrating on this weekend's benefit.

Because this is the event's 20th year, the Road Dogs decided to go whole hog with entertainment and booked three national acts - former lead singer of Bad Company, Brian Howe, the Kentucky Headhunters and Confederate Railroad. Ratajczek would like to see 2,000 people show up. He encourages attendees to get the $30 weekend pass, which includes camping.

"My whole thought is that people will understand it's for a good cause and are willing to drive that little bit extra," Ratajczek said.

When the hog roast first started, it was aimed at helping Vietnam veterans. It has since expanded to help veterans of more recent wars, including the war in Iraq. Some years there's more money to donate than others. In leaner years, Road Dog members will pass the hat.

"We're always looking for ways to help veterans," Ratajczek said.

On Saturday, there will be a

100-mile poker run motorcycle ride beginning at noon, with registration from 10 to 11:30 a.m. The ride costs $10, of which $5 goes directly to benefit veterans. In addition to music, there will be three roasted pigs, fireworks, a bike burn and wet T-shirt contest.

"It's nice when it doesn't hurt to do something good," Ratajczek said.

If you go

WHAT: 20th annual Veterans/P.O.W./M.I.A. Benefit Hog Roast, sponsored by the Road Dogs Motorcycle Club

WHEN: Friday and Saturday; gates open at 3 p.m. Friday; music includes Tuck Pence at 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, former Bad Company lead singer Brian Howe at

10 p.m. Friday, Confederate Railroad at 8:30 p.m. and The Kentucky Headhunters at 10:30 p.m., both Saturday. Must be 21 to attend.

WHERE: Site of Gin Mill, Bluff Siding, Wis.

TICKETS: $15 for Friday, $20 for Saturday, $30 for weekend, ticket includes camping; available at George's Lounge in Bluff Siding, Wis., Trempealeau Hotel in Trempealeau, Wis., Longhorn Saloon in La Crosse, Wis., Upchucks in Arcadia, Wis., Smokey's Bar in Holmen, Wis., and the Wing Dam Saloon in Fountain City, Wis.

INFORMATION: Call (608) 687-4466 or visit">

Contact Käri Knutson at or (507) 453-3523.

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