Outdoorama focuses on family fun, conservation

By: Cari DeLamielleure-Scott | C&G Newspapers | Published February 19, 2014

NOVI — Combining conservation and outdoor sporting activities, the 41st annual Outdoorama will return to the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi Feb. 27-March 2.

While some shows focus heavily on hunting and some on fishing, Outdoorama balances the two with family fun and conservation groups, said Bill Parker, Sport Show publicist.

Outdoorama was founded by the Michigan United Conservation Clubs in 1974 at the old state fairgrounds. Though the location and platform have undergone changes over the years, the foundation of conservation still exists 41 years later.

“It was created … as a way to bring sportsmen together and guides so the sportsmen and women could find where they could go and … really experience their sports,” said Erin McDonough, executive director of MUCC. “It was also a place to bring people with a passion of conservation.”

MUCC’s presence is stronger than ever as the leading conservation organization, Parker said. The organization’s goal at Outdoorama is to educate sportsmen and women about important issues affecting Michigan’s hunters and fishers.

Some of this year’s “hot issues” that MUCC will address are invasive species — especially the Asian carp — out-of-state animal rights organizations advocating for eliminating hunting and fishing, the Citizens for Professional Wildlife Management initiative, public land, and the Sportsmen’s Heritage Act, which deals with the ability to use all kinds of ammunition.

Conservation-minded groups, organizations and agencies will fill Suburban Collection Showplace, promoting the use of natural resources. Some of the agencies include the Michigan Sea Grant, the Michigan Fly Fishing Club and both the Michigan and Ohio departments of natural resources.

In the past, about 15,000-20,000 people have attended Outdoorama annually, McDonough said.

“One of the real crowd pleasers is the Ultimate Air Dogs,” Parker said. “If you’ve never seen a dog smile, you have to see the Ultimate Air Dogs. I swear, the dogs are smiling and they’re having so much fun.”

Ultimate Air Dogs was formed in 2005 by former Tigers pitcher Milt Wilcox.

Because the interest in archery has grown rapidly due to movies like “Hunger Games,” the Michigan Bow Hunters Association will set up an archery station for both youth and adults, Parker said. The Michigan Bass Federation will run a trout pond.

Show hours are 3-9:30 p.m. Feb. 27, noon-9:30 p.m. Feb. 28, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. March 1 and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. March 2.  For more information, visit www.outdoorama.com or call (800) 328-6550.

Tickets are available at www.outdoorrama.com and Wendy’s restuarants for $10 per adult and $4 per child ages 6-14. Children 5 and younger attend for free. Tickets will also be available at the door.

“The cool thing about Outdoorama: it’s very much a family show. The way that ShowSpan runs it is geared towards people coming and spending the day with their kids,” McDonough said. “Conservation is about your whole family and a way of life, and they really try to show and reflect that.”

Suburban Collection Showplace is located at 46100 Grand River Drive in Novi.