May 26 11:27 PM

Looking forward to #23, well, sort of

September 17, 2008
Have you ever cut a big old tree, planning precise cuts for it to drop in a specific spot? Only to hear it crack, tilt and begin the slow groan of falling in the opposite direction, directly toward your 4-wheeler, truck or house?! Those moments just before impact you get this indescribable feeling in the pit of your stomach, knowing there is absolutely nothing you can do. Simply watch, helplessly.

It's that feeling I sometimes get during the Woods-N-Water News Outdoor Weekend. Once it starts, there isn't much we can do to change the direction. So you just roll with the punches and make the best of it.

On Friday evening, after closing hours, I was chatting with friend, Mark Madeline, who was helping us watch parking gates on the south side of the fairgrounds.

"How'd it go?" I asked.

"You've got a "wild beaver" in the parking lot, chasing people all over," Mark said with a little hesitation.

"This lady and her daughter came running up to me, screaming for help, shouting that a "wild beaver" was chasing them all over the parking lot," Mark continued.

"After 22 years of doing the Outdoor Weekend, I have to tell you that's a new one," I reply.

"Well, she was serious," Mark states.

"Ahh, that's not good," I sigh.

Getting chased around Imlay City by a wild beaver, just simply isn't good. It's downright bad for tourism, even for the Outdoor Weekend!

Like that tree that falls in the opposite direction than planned, you get that funny feeling in your stomach and just roll with the punches.

I thought, maybe we can work with this, it could add lore to the show, a little legend in the making. This just may be what we need to produce some ambience for the total show experience. It could keep us one step ahead of the other outdoor shows, wild animals in the parking lot! Ad campaigns started racing through my head.

By this time next year, as stories sometimes do, it may take on an outdoor experience we can't duplicate. The story could be that Jeff Ford's wolverine decides to make the fairgrounds his home? Or maybe it could even become the tall tale of a cougar lurking between pickups?

The truth, of course, is a woodchuck found cars and trucks parked over one of his burrows. Not a "wild beaver." The woodchuck may have taken his territorial act a little too far though. I don't think he thought his bluff through very well, since the fairgrounds was full of 15,000 hunters. Sooner or later he was going to meet his demise. Accidently or intentionally, he did.

And speaking of that tree that falls exactly where you didn't intend? Although Tom Campbell (show organizer and Woods-N-Water News editor) and I put many hours into the Outdoor Weekend, planning, organizing and directing, it seldom comes off exactly as we envisioned.

One thing is certain, people sure seem to enjoy our Outdoor Weekend and we are thankful for that.

Tom and I are also thankful for the help we get from our small staff, family and friends. The Outdoor Weekend has become too big without the help of many, most of them putting on their other hats during the week to bring you the Woods-N-Water News.

Our sponsors are also very important, allowing us to grow and promote the Outdoor Weekend. We thank Exmark, Arctic Cat, Arkat Nutrition, Lumberjack Shack, Freeway Sports and Ray C's Sports Center.

The local community of Imlay City has embraced the Outdoor Weekend as well and we are thankful. The Eastern Michigan Fairgrounds, the police department, fire department and city officials have always provided us with helpful opportunities to expand and grow.

So no, the tree doesn't always fall exactly where we intend, but you can bet Tom and I will do everything we can to improve next year's event.

Thanks for coming and helping us celebrate our Michigan outdoor heritage!

The 2009 Outdoor Weekend will be held September 11, 12 and 13 at the Eastern Michigan Fairgrounds. Hope we see you there. We're looking forward to #23, well, sort of, if things go as planned.

Editor's Note: If you would like to email Randy,

Castle Creek
Milnes Ford
05 - 26 - 19
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