Outdoor Weekend finds success in 35th annual event


IMLAY CITY — After a year’s absence, the 35th Annual Woods-N-Water News Outdoor Weekend attracted thousands of visitors to Eastern Michigan State Fairgrounds over the weekend, Sept. 10-12.

Many of them relished the opportunity to reunite for one of Michigan’s largest and best public events dedicated to hunting, fishing and the outdoor lifestyle.

Once inside the gates, Outdoor Weekend visitors were greeted by dozens of puppies yelping in excitement in hopes that a youngster or family might take them home.

Walking on, attendees were greeted by hundreds of vendors exhibiting and selling the latest in hunting and fishing items.

One of them was Marysville resident Wyatt Riehl, who was attending the Outdoor Weekend for the first time.

Joined by his children, Devin, 12, and Emmy Lynn, 4, Riehl was impressed with the large turnout and the availability of hunting-related products.

“I enjoy hiking and being in the outdoors,” Riehl said. “I’ve been impressed with the wide variety of unique and high-tech items.

“Some of them I’d never seen before. The nice thing is that this is a family-friendly event. There are things for the whole family to do.”

A blindfolded Byron Ferguson wows the crowd with his archery trick shots skills during one of his Outdoor Weekend shows.

His enthusiasm was shared by 9-year-old Raelynn Pierce of Fort Gratiot, who was enjoying the show with her sister Charlotte, 4. Both girls were chaperoned by their grandma, Kathy Pierce.

“This is a lot of fun and I really like being outside,” she said. “My favorite things are watching the dogs jump and climbing up the rock wall.”

Not surprisingly, Raelynn had little trouble climbing her way to the ‘tippy top’ of the rock wall.

Stepping inside the Civil War encampment tent, Armada resident Sandy Rooney could be found operating an old-fashioned spinning wheel.

A regular at local fairs and craft shows, Rooney finds the process of spinning yarn rewarding and personally satisfying.

She pointed out that various materials can be used in the art of spinning.

As evidence, on Sunday, Sept. 12, Rooney was transforming collie fur into large balls of yarn.

Among the highlights of this year’s show were world-renown archer Byron Ferguson; Native American Indian Reg Pettibone’s demonstrating traditional dancing and Indian lore; the numerous hunting and educational seminars.

One of the the most popular attractions for all ages was former Detroit Tiger pitcher Milt Wilcox’s “Ultimate Air Dogs” show; which enjoyed large audiences throughout the the weekend.

On Monday morning, in the aftermath of another successful show, Woods-N-Water News Editor Tom Campbell could not be happier with the outcome.

“It was terrific hosting our 35th Outdoor Weekend, especially after last year’s cancellation,” Campbell said. “We had great weather, great crowds and happy vendors. What a great way to kick off the fall outdoor season.”

Campbell said the success of the Outdoor Weekend is very reliant on the participation and efforts of a great many people.

“An event like this can’t happen without the support of our vendors, local businesses, the community, our police and fire departments, the Eastern Michigan State Fair manager Ian Kempf and the Fair Board, Imlay City Rotary Club, Imlay City Band Boosters, plus family and friends.”

Campbell explained that given continuing concerns related to the pandemic, planning this year’s Outdoor Weekend was particularly challenging.

“We had to overcome plenty of challenges to make this event a success,” he said, “and we always measure that success by showgoer and vendor satisfaction, and we did that.

“Now we look forward to Sept. 9-11, 2022, when we host our 36th Annual Woods-N-Water News Outdoor Weekend.”