by CLIFF AND NANCY HILL
Sixty-five years and counting, Michigan’s oldest sport show played out to record crowds this past weekend at the Showspan Inc.-produced Ultimate Sport Show at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids. From new boats and accessories to fishing tackle and hunting gear, along with representatives from sporting goods suppliers, there was something of interest for every sportsman and woman.
Also on hand were fishing and hunting resort operators from all over the United States and Canada, extolling the virtues of their ultimate year-round sporting packages.
This being Michigan, fishing was the name of the game. Indeed, the show was “pure Michigan.” You could book a fine Michigan guide, make reservations for a great family fishing vacation, purchase the latest fishing tackle, and attend multiple demonstrations and seminars to hone your outdoor skills. From mushroom-hunting and fly-casting instructions, to canoe and kayaking demonstrations on the huge DeVos Place 110,000-gallon Lake Ultimate, there was something for everyone. Not left out were the kids. They could receive coaching in casting skills or try their hand at a fully stocked trout pond.
Two prominent Rockford businesses played a big role in the show. One of Michigan’s most knowledgeable anglers, Glen Blackwood of Rockford’s Great Lakes Fly Fishing Company and host of TV’s “Fly Fishing with Glen Blackwood,” gave fly-fishing casting and presentation demonstrations on Lake Ultimate. Unbelievably, in the crystal clear waters of the lake, he was able to entice and hook ever-wary stocked trout.
The experts at Rockford’s Powers Outdoors gave live in-water demonstrations of how to enter and exit a kayak, various paddling techniques, along with important kayak maneuvers.
Best of all for us, Rockford’s world record angler Tom Healy was on hand to personally autograph commemorative t-shirts. A portion of the proceeds was being donated to the Manistee County Sportfishing Association. You may recall that Rockford resident Healy had hooked and landed a new world record brown trout on Michigan’s Manistee River on Sept. 9, of last year.
Michigan sportsmen never miss the Ultimate Sport Show. We saw familiar faces from all over Rockford in attendance during our visit. If you weren’t there this year, plan on attending the March 2011 event.