September 06, 2017What's a vegetarian pacifist doing at the Woods-N-Water News Outdoor weekend?
As it turns out, plenty.
I remember being skeptical that the event would offer anything of interest for me. But I realized I was wrong the first time I stepped through the Fairground gates for the Outdoor Weekend more than 20 years ago. I was a freelancer at the time, writing feature and news stories for Tri-City Times. It was 1995 and I was loving my slice of heaven life, writing and tending to plants and flowers at DeSmet's Greenhouse just around the corner from paradise on Dryden Road.
A couple of years before, Rod and I made the move to the country. My dream come true. Dirt road, trees, nature, space, love.
An avid bow hunter, Rod had already heard of the Woods-N-Water News Outdoor Weekend, and visited the event the first chance he could in the fall of 1992. He came home with a bag full of brochures and freebies from the huge variety of vendors who religiously turn out for the show.
He also brought home an extraordinarily cool turkey call—a wooden box with a sort of wooden "scratcher tool" than when rubbed on the box with some finesse sounded exactly like a wild turkey. I loved it. Natural and effective, and something even this non-hunter could do to call in the big birds just to check them out.
My first visit to the show happened because then-Editor Tom 'Tommy-boy' Wearing gave me some assignments for the Outdoor Weekend, and I took them on.
At the time, my folks used to spend a lot of time at Peaceful Moon acres—our little slice of heaven in the woods. They'd come out with their GMC motorhome—my dad's Harley in a matching beige trailer behind it. We'd spend weekends going to farm stands, riding together on the country roads, and sipping beer and cocktails around the campfire until it was time to go to bed. It was bliss.
Of course, since the folks were there, I brought them along to the show. From then on, it became an annual event, with my folks and my sisters planning weekend visits around the Outdoor Show.
My dad always wanted to make sure we got there in time for the Chili Cook Off. My dad loved a good party, and let me tell you the party atmosphere in the cook-off tent is big. The beer and the barking and the chefs challenging each other loudly about whose creation was the best. Oh, and the free samples. I swear my dad would skip lunch just so he could fill up on the styrofoam cups filled with chili that the chefs generously passed out before the judging.
I loved the animal exhibits. And the camping gear. My first purchase was a handmade mosquito netting jacket, complete with a hood that zipped up over the face to keep the pesky creatures at bay. Back then, Peaceful Moon acres were wet, wet, wet, and with so much wetlands and woods around, you couldn't hardly walk out the door without being completely attacked.
Now that there've been more drought cycles than not, the mosquitoes aren't as bad—although this year was sort of an exception—and I still use the jacket today.
Like everyone else, I loved the beverages and the food, the excitement and the fun of being in a place where families were together and happy, and where it was common to see a little boy or girl "cradling a new puppy like it was a bag of gold,"—my dad's analogy.
Some 20-plus years later, when I think of the Outdoor Weekend I think of families and fun, and of all of the good times I shared with the ones I loved the most.
So, even if you're a peace-loving, non-hunting hippie vegetarian female, if you want to make some great memories with those you love, check out the Outdoor Weekend. What I wouldn't give to have all of my family together again to enjoy the show.
Email Catherine at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Catherine Minolli is Managing Editor of the Tri-City Times. She began as a freelance writer with the Times in 1994. She enjoys the country life, including raising ducks and chickens.