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'Woods' weekend draws record crowds to Imlay



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A Native American offers an example of how Indian tribes from across the continent once celebrated a successful hunt. Indian tradition requires that the process of hunting focus on respect for the animal. photo by Tom Wearing.
September 10, 2008
IMLAY CITY — The fall tradition that is the Woods-N-Water News Outdoor Weekend becomes more entrenched in the lives of outdoor enthusiasts each year. The 22nd annual show held at the Eastern Michigan Fairgrounds can again boast record attendance.

Record crowds turned out for hunting seminars, loads of outdoor gear and gadgets, the Ultimate Air Dogs competition and lots more.

Josh Newsom, 11, and his dad, Shannon, of Imlay City, were browsing some outdoor wear Sunday and contemplating where to go next.

"I just like all the different exhibits," Josh said.

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"We've been watching the Air Dogs every day," Shannon said.

The pair said they'd been tempted by several of the raffles and drawings too.

Allen Spanske, of Almont, didn't hesitate to enter the Arctic Cat ATV 400 giveaway drawing and was thrilled to learn his name was drawn Sunday afternoon from hundreds of other hopefuls.

"This made my year," Spanske, a regular showgoer and Arctic Cat fan, said.

Dave Zgnilec, of Lumberjack Shack, who gave the ATV away in conjunction with Arctic Cat, said he was pleased with the giveaway and the entire weekend.

"We do an ATV giveaway every year with Arctic Cat for the show but just did it different this year," he said.

Instead of a raffle, every adult who came through the show gates was eligible to fill out an entry form.

While Spanske gets to play with his new toy, hundreds of attendees took home a new member of the family from the puppy tent.

Linda Gehringer of Macomb, a volunteer with Benefit for Kids, picked out a beagle pup.

"I'm a sucker for a certain face," she said with a laugh.

"Besides, I need another one for my two-year old dog to play with," she said of the last four-legged friend she bought at a previous show.

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Another canine goes airborne during Ultimate Air Dog competition.
Benefit for Kids helps grant the outdoor wishes of children with terminal illnesses.

Puppy tent vendor Rylee Clarkson said her family's sales of Weimaraners was strong.

"We've sold four so far," she said on Sunday morning and unlike her cousin, wasn't teary-eyed to see them go.

Visitors were also treated to unique displays of traditional outdoor skills. Hide tanner Mark Barckholtz let brave participants slip on an apron and clean hides with homemade tools.

"We are extremely pleased with the turnout at the 22nd Woods-N-Water News Outdoor Weekend, plenty of happy outdoor enthusiasts – to us it's the unofficial end of summer and start of our fall outdoor season," Woods' Editor and show organizer Tom Campbell said.

"Once again it was great to see so many families and familiar faces. Our pre-fall tradition continues."

Firm attendance numbers aren't known yet but Campbell's confident the 2008 show exceeded the average turnout of 13,000.

"Obviously an event like this doesn't happened without the great help and cooperation of staff, family, friends, the fair board, fire department, police, EMS, and the entire community," Campbell said.

"Last year I joked that there's not many events where you see the mayor of the town directing traffic, well this year we added a county commissioner; Ian Kempf pitched in with traffic control."

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