Unique display celebrates the upcoming hunting season at the Woods-N-Water News Outdoor Weekend on Saturday. photo by Bobbie Lewis.
September 12, 2018IMLAY CITY — Weather conditions were cool and brisk over the weekend; ideal for the thousands of outdoor lovers that filled the Eastern Michigan State Fairgrounds Sept. 7-9.
The occasion was the 32nd Annual "Outdoor Weekend" hosted by Woods-N-Water News, Michigan's premiere magazine devoted to celebrating the Great Lakes State's unique outdoor lifestyle.
Once passing through the gates over the weekend, attendees young and old were greeted by the sights, sounds and smells of the outdoors.
With admission only $8 for adults (including parking) and free to kids 12 and under, the Woods-N-Water News Outdoor Weekend remains a bargain for families wanting to spend some special time together as another Michigan summer wanes.
In addition to the more than 250 exhibitors, attendees could find nearly every imaginable item sought after by even the most discriminating of hunters, fishermen and just plain lovers of the out-of-doors.
If you wanted to purchase a new gun, bow, 4-wheeler, hunting dog or myriad examples and varieties of the latest in outdoor-related equipment, you were at the right place.
Ed Rogers of Chesaning said it was the second year he'd come to the Outdoor Weekend to sell his puppies at the Puppy Tent—and he plans to return next year.
"Oh, I'll definitely be coming back," said Rogers, who was surrounded by a large group of youngsters hoping to hold, pet or take home one of his prized Feist pups.
"I was here last year and have become a big fan of this event," Rogers continued. "There's so many people here and they're all great people. It's a great environment.
"It's also so nice to see so many kids spending time outdoors," he said. "You don't see enough of that anymore.
"When I was a kid, we practically lived out in the woods," Rogers recalled. "We never wanted to be stuck inside the house. We just wanted to get out of the house and play. It's not that way anymore."
Among those bucking the "stay indoors" mentality were Trent Myers, 10, of Oxford and Austin Richardson of Fort Gratiot, whose visit to the Outdoor Weekend with his parents on Saturday was his first.
"I really like the puppies," said Austin. "I'd take them all home with me if I could."
"This is our first time here and it's absolutely awesome," Austin's mom chimed in. "There are so many people, and so many nice people. We'll definitely be coming back."
While there were a large number of newcomers in the crowd, others have been coming for many years—if not for decades.
Bob Waldren of Roseville likes to attend the show on Sunday, so the visit coincides with what is likely the last trip to his cabin for the season.
"It's become like a tradition," he said. "It's a nice way to bring the summer to a close."
Woods-N-Water News Editor Tom Campbell said he saw a lot of smiling faces and heard numerous positive responses from visitors and exhibitors.
"There are always things that can be improved, but it was a great show. I'm pretty sure Saturday's attendance was the best-ever," said Campbell. "We had a better than usual Friday, with a lot of our vendors setting up early; and Sunday was also very good.
"I can't say enough about the efforts of our volunteers, staff, Imlay City Police and DPW, the Sheriff's Posse, Eastern Michigan Fair staff, our family and friends, and everybody who worked so hard to make this year's event a big success," Campbell said. "We want to offer a special thank you to all of our vendors and to all the individuals and families that joined us over the weekend.
"That's what is most satisfying for us—to see so many people with smiles on their faces and having a good time," Campbell said. "That's what inspires us to keep doing it again."
Despite the string of successful events, Woods-N-Water News Show Promoter Keil Jorgensen said organizers have no intention of resting on the laurels of the past.
"We are always looking at what we can do to make the Outdoor Weekend bigger and better," said Jorgensen. "That's always our goal.
"It's a lot of work, but also a lot of fun putting this show together every year," he said. "It's great to see the event be successful. "Not just for us," said Jorgensen, "but for everyone involved. That includes our vendors, showgoers, the community of Imlay City, and everyone who loves and enjoys celebrating the out-of-doors."
Tom Wearing started at the Tri-City Times in 1989, covering the Village of Capac as a beat reporter. He later served stints as assistant editor and editor. Today, he covers Imlay City and Almont as a staff writer. He enjoys music and plays drums and sings with various musical groups in the Detroit Metropolitan area.