Pure Michigan February 2015 Events Roundup

February may be the shortest month of the year, but there’s no shortage of winter fun happening around the state! From the Michigan International Auto Show in Grand Rapids to Free Fishing Weekend, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. So, pull out your calendars and pack your bags, a snow day getaway awaits you in Pure Michigan. For a full list of events, visit michigan.org/events.

February 1 – 8

Au Gres Polar Splash
January 31 – February 1, Au Gres
The Au Gres Area Chamber of Commerce is helping break up those “Winter Blues” by hosting a winter festival at the Au Gres City Park. Enjoy activities such as ice skating, soup cook off, music, polar dip, fishing contest, beer tent, & poker run! This will also coincide with an exciting snowmobile drag race event at the Au Gres DNR Breakwall site along the Au Gres River!

CrossCountrySkiersMeijer State Winter Games Cross Country Nordic Ski Race
February 1, Grayling
The Meijer State Games of Michigan added the inaugural Winter Games to continue fulfilling the mission of being a grassroots organization that welcomes athletes from all ages and abilities. The Winter Games consisted of 12 different sports, including the famous nordic ski race,  in which 1,645 athletes participated. Head to Grayling for an epic winter adventure!

Meridian Winter Blast
February 6-8, Detroit
Meridian Winter Blast, produced by Jonathan Witz & Associates, features hip and cool winter events centered around Campus Martius Park. Many signature winter activities are returning with Buick sponsoring the 200 Foot Snow Slide, free ice-skating in Campus Martius Park, professional skating demonstrations, unique sculptures in the Flagstar Bank Ice Garden, the Winter Blast Off presented by GM Foundation and more.

International 500 Snowmobile Race
February 7, Sault Saint Marie
Come join Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, for the 47th Annual International I-500 Snowmobile Race and experience all the thrills of NASCAR on a one-mile oval ice track. The I-500 is the biggest event in the Upper Peninsula and in the entire snowmobile-racing world. When drivers accelerate to speeds exceeding 100 miles per hour on the straightaways, your heart will race!

ManVsMountainMan vs. Mountain
February 7, Mt. Pleasant

A unique winter 5K obstacle course that challenges participants to brave Michigan’s brutal elements and go beyond the average obstacle course. Run, climb and jump your way through obstacles that are strategically placed along the course. The challenge begins in front of Nelson Park and will take you through Mt. Pleasant’s beautiful park system.

Tahquamenon Falls State Park – Guided Snowshoe Hike
February 7, Paradise
Discover how easy snowshoeing really is during this guided hike through the snow-covered woods of Tahquamenon. This fun, inexpensive winter sport can keep you healthy and happy through the cold winter months. A limited number of snowshoes are available to borrow at no charge.

February 9 – 15

Frostbite Winter Festival
February 12-15, Harrison
This four day event features the unique and popular golf tournament on the ice of Budd Lake, an ice fishing tournament with cash prizes, an arts & crafts fair, children’s carnival, Snowmobile Radar Run, Polar Dip, silent auction, bar tour, scavenger hunt and a whole lot more! Set in beautiful Harrison, this event has something for everyone – whether you love the Michigan outdoors or prefer to play indoors.

UP200UP200 Sled Dog Race 2015
February 12 -16, Marquette
The UP 200 is one of America’s premier 12-dog, mid-distance sled dog races and also a pre-qualifier for the Iditarod. Mushers say this is one of their favorite races, not only because of the challenging race, but because of the cheering crowds and warm welcome they receive here in the Upper Peninsula. The UP 200 trail covers 240 miles of challenging terrain through the areas of Marquette, Grand Marais, Wetmore, and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and finishes at Mattson Lower Harbor Park in Marquette. Come join in the excitement for the start of the race located in downtown Marquette! If you’re looking for more Dogsled action, check out the Midnight Run!

Labatt Blue UP Pond Hockey Championship
February 13-15, Saint Ignace
The Labatt Blue UP Pond Hockey Championship drew a record 191 teams from 11 states to St. Ignace in 2014. Come and play in one of the few pond hockey tournaments where the ‘pond’ is actually one of the five Great Lakes – Lake Huron! This is a USA Hockey sanctioned tournament, and welcomes players over the age of 21 to participate.

Ice Fishing Tournament
February 14, Mayville
On February 14, 2015, The Fowler Center will be having its 20th annual Ice Fishing Tournament, hosted by Rob and Susie Trott of Great Lakes Outdoors. Come fish for the chance to catch the grand prize pike. Cost is $20 per session for ages 17 and over, $5 per session for those under 17.

Romancing the Riesling
February 14, Traverse City
We’ve long had a romance with the Riesling grape, and Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula (WOMP) will be pairing this beautiful wine with a complementary dish that will possibly even make you fall in love a little bit more. Head to Traverse City to keep up that love affair with your favorite wine!

February 16 – 22

Grand Rapids Boat Show
February 18-22, Grand Rapids
A West Michigan tradition! Exhibits include boats up to 50 feet, fishing boats, ski boats, pontoons, kayaks and motor yachts. Also, boating accessories and services like marina slips and ski gear abound. It is one of the finest water sports expos in the country featuring the Key West Crab Shack, an antique and classic boat display and the Tuber’s Truckload sale.

Meijer State Games of Michigan – Winter Games
February 20-22, Cannonsburg
The Meijer State Games of Michigan is a multi-sport, Olympic-style event that welcomes athletes regardless of age or ability. The Games embody the values of participation, sportsmanship and healthy living among residents of the state of Michigan. The philosophy of the Meijer State Games of Michigan is that everyone participates regardless of age or ability; everyone is welcome and everyone plays. Opening Ceremonies for all participants will be held Friday, February 20, 2015 at Cannonsburg Ski Area.

Kalamazoo Reptile & Exotic Animal Show
February 21, Kalamazoo
Head to Kalamazoo to meet your new slithering best friend! Buy sell or trade a variety of reptiles, amphibians, small mammals and other exotic pets. Snakes, lizards and many more exotic animals will be on display and ready to warm your heart during the winter season.

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park – Guided Snowshoe Hike
February 21, Ontonagon
Snowshoers on this hike can ride the ski lift up the hill then snowshoe down the east side of the ski area. With a stop at East Vista for the view then bust through fresh snow on the way back down. Bring a camera on this picturesque hike. All experience levels welcome. Snowshoes can be borrowed from the park if needed, just arrive a few minutes early. The hikes is 2 hours and of moderate difficulty.

Michigan Historical Museum – Picture-Perfect Photography Hunt
February 21, Lansing
Bring your camera or smartphone and find your artistic voice in the museum galleries! Take a selfie and then post it to the Michigan Historical Museum page on Facebook. Usually, flash is not allowed in the exhibits, so look for the special “flash allowed” signs. This activity is included with museum admission.

February 23 – 28

Outdoorama
February 26-March 1
Whether it’s hunting, fishing, boating, canoeing, hiking, camping, mushroom hunting or bird watching – this is one of the year’s best shows. The Outfitter’s Expo area along with major feature attractions like Big Buck Night, Entertaining Dog Acts and the Trout Pond provide the best place to book the trip of a lifetime or entertain the family. In addition, there will be a huge display of boats, docks and lifts and marine accessories.

Tony-N-Tina’s Wedding
February 27, Warren
At Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding, audience members play the roles of Tony n’ Tina’s family and friends. Allow yourself to be caught up in the activities! This incredible evening of entertainment will be something you and your friends will be talking about for many years. $63 advance tickets include: show ticket, champagne toast, Andiamo gourmet Italian dinner, a piece of wedding cake, and entertainment.

timthumbWinter Beer Festival
February 27-28, Grand Rapids
Winter Beer Festival is an outdoor celebration of Michigan beer, featuring over 600 beers from more than 70 breweries. Dress for winter weather and let the hearty winter brews warm your soul. Snow, rain, or shine.

Big M Moonlight Ski
February 28, Manistee
The Big M Moonlight ski and snowshoe is a tradition that will get you out of your house on a beautiful winter’s night and ski the freshly groomed trails of Big M! Portions of trails are lit up by candle light making this a memorable trek for any cross country ski enthusiast. During the event, event organizers open up the warming lodge and offer warm desserts and drinks to warm up after an evening of great skiing.

Polar Plunge
February 28, Chippewa Lake
Get in touch with your inner Michigander and take a dive into frozen Chippewa Lake! A polar plunge is an experience unlike any other! The Chippewa Lake – Mecosta/Osceola County Polar Plunge takes place February 28, 2015, at Chippewa Lake. The parade of costumes will start at 12:30pm. The After Splash Bash will take place immediately following the plunge at the Chippewa Township Community Building.

What’s your favorite way to spend a snow day in Pure Michigan? Share your photos enjoying winter fun using #PureMichiganSnowDay on Twitter and Instagram or visit michigan.org/snowday.

Ice Fishing 101: Six Simple Rules for Ice Fishing in Michigan

Michigan is a winter wonderland – especially for ice fishing! Today, guest bloggers Elyse Walter and Christian LeSage from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources give us six simple rules for a fun and safe ice fishing experience in Pure Michigan. 

Ice-fishing-in-MichiganMichigan offers some wonderful outdoor opportunities throughout the year, including world-class fishing. While some anglers head for the indoors when the temperatures dip, others look forward to winter’s most popular angling activity – ice fishing.

Many anglers and families look forward to the opportunities ice fishing provides them during these colder months, with some proclaiming this the best time to go fishing! Ice fishing is generally a more social event and many anglers welcome sharing a conversation about how they’re doing and what has worked for them. Others prefer the solitude that this wintery sport offers as they battle the elements in their quest to catch fish. Some of the benefits of ice fishing include the fact you can get to just about anywhere on a lake during the season and there are a multitude of species available to target.

If you’ve never been ice fishing there are a few things to think about so you’re prepared to have a fun and safe experience. We often recommend following these six simple rules:

1. Never fish alone.

2. Tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to return.

3. Always test the ice with a spud (a long shank with a chisel-like end).

4. Take the appropriate emergency items, such as ice picks and a life jacket.

5. Take a cell phone (enclosed in a plastic bag) with you in case you need to call for help.

6. Lakes tend to be a safer choice during the early winter as streams or rivers have flow which makes them less safe at times.

After you round up your gear (check out this list in our “Ice Fishing, the Coolest Sport Around” article) you’ll want to think about which species to fish for. Maybe you’d like to look for panfish while hook-and-line fishing, such as bluegill, yellow perch or crappie. Use a tip-up to target larger game fish, like northern pike, walleye and numerous trout species. Or – an opportunity unique to Michigan – consider going spearing for some monster fish like northern pike or muskellunge. Please note there are many restrictions associated with spear fishing (for instance, muskellunge harvest is limited to one per angler per season and a harvest tag is required), anglers should read the 2014 Michigan Fishing Guide for more information.

No matter what type of ice fishing method you choose remember this simple tip: success is most often seen around dawn until mid-morning or from late afternoon until sundown.

Need additional incentive to drop a line this winter? Try it for free as part of the 2015 Winter Free Fishing Weekend, coming Saturday, February 14 and Sunday, February 15. This annual weekend provides two days where no fishing license is required for residents or non-residents – although all fishing regulations still apply.

The Department of Natural Resources has coordinated the Winter Free Fishing Weekend every year since 1994 in an effort to showcase the great angling opportunities available in Michigan and to allow residents and visitors alike to try the experience for free.

While many individuals and families will flock to their favorite fishing hole as part of this weekend, others will join official events coordinated throughout the state that will provide hands-on ice fishing experience. An official 2015 Winter Free Fishing Weekend event list will be available at www.michigan.gov/freefishing later this winter.

Don’t miss your chance to experience Michigan’s outstanding winter fishing opportunities and to get your family outdoors. Start planning your next fishing trip at www.michigan.gov/fishing

ElyseWalter-ChristianLeSageElyse Walter is a communication specialist for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Christian LeSage is a Senior Fisheries Biologist for the Department. Elyse works specifically with the DNR’s Fisheries Division to help educate and promote the state’s fishing opportunities and aquatic resources. Christian LeSage’s responsibilities include improving angling opportunities for anglers through fish stocking activities as well as development of the annual Michigan Fishing Guide. Elyse and Christian work together to promote Michigan’s awesome angling opportunities which are second to none.

How to Have the Ultimate Outdoor Adventure in Michigan This Summer

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources offers a number of programs to help outdoor enthusiasts take advantage of all that the great outdoors in Pure Michigan have to offer – including Recreation 101 and 202, Summer Free Fishing Weekend, Michigan Boating Week and much more! Today, the DNR’s Maia Turek describes the many ways to have an outdoor adventure in Michigan this summer. 

Recreation 101

recreation 101Michigan is rich in recreation opportunities, and for those looking to explore those activities, the Department of Natural Resources’ Recreation 101 program at Michigan state parks is the perfect way to get started.

The beauty of the four seasons in Michigan is that we have almost every recreational opportunity available to us. In the warmer months, Michiganders can choose to ease down the river on a paddleboard, channel their inner marksmen with archery, or search the skies for a rare, treasured species while birdwatching.  The winter months offer just as much variety, with snowboarding, snowmobiling, skiing, snowshoeing and so much more.

The only challenges with having so many options is choosing what to try and where to start. There are a lot of things to take into account when picking up a new activity; buying the right equipment, learning the techniques, taking safety precautions and finding the space to actually get started. It can be overwhelming!

Recreation 101 class at Sleepy Hollow State Park.

Photo courtesy of Michigan Department of Natural Resources

But the good news is that you don’t have to figure it out on your own. The Department of Natural Resources’ Recreation 101 program provides all of the gear, guides and good times so that people can try out something new in Michigan’s woods and waters, and the best part – it’s completely free!

Recreation 101, also known as “Rec 101,” is a series of hands-on introductory classes taught by DNR staff and expert volunteers from organizations, guide services, outfitters and more. These volunteers offer their time and knowledge to introduce novice recreation enthusiasts to all the great activities available in Michigan. Programs cover almost any imaginable recreational pursuit available in Michigan, including kayaking, canoeing, windsurfing, archery, geocaching, birding, mushroom hunting, to name a few.

If you’re a bit more experienced with an activity, the DNR also offers a Recreation 202 series which provides more advanced instruction and in-depth experiences. Instructors offer these classes at a reduced rate from what you might find elsewhere, making Rec 202 classes a fun and affordable way to explore Michigan’s great outdoors.

Whether you’re just getting started or are an experienced recreation enthusiast, the Recreation 101 and 202 programs offer fun and interesting classes for everyone. For a full schedule of programs, visit www.michigan.gov/rec101, and enjoy a new activity this summer!

For more information on Recreation 101, check out the video below:

Free Fishing, ORVing and State Park Entry – June 7 – 8, 2014

Family-fishing-in-Michigan-300x199

Photo courtesy of Michigan Department of Natural Resources

To kick off the summer season, the DNR coordinates a Summer Free Fishing Weekend each year (and has since 1986) to showcase the great angling opportunities available in Michigan, while easing some of the financial investment needed to get involved. It’s the perfect time to discover the state’s world-class resources.  The 2014 Summer Free Fishing Weekend is Saturday, June 7 and Sunday, June 8. During these two days anyone – residents and non-residents alike – can fish all waters without purchasing a license, although all other regulations still apply.

In addition to free fishing, the DNR will also waive the requirement for an ORV license and trails permit for the weekend – a great opportunity for those who might prefer to navigate Michigan’s 3,000+ miles of ORV trails. 

Also on June 8th,  the DNR will waive the Recreation Passport requirement for entry into state parks as part of this summer outdoor recreation kick-off.

If you’d like to learn more about Summer Free Fishing Weekend, watch the video below.

Michigan Boating Week – June 7 – 14, 2014

Photo courtesy of Michigan Boating Industries Association

Photo courtesy of Michigan Boating Industries Association

Michigan Boating Week  also kicks off June 7-14.  Michigan Boating Week is a partnership between the DNR, Michigan Waterways Commission and the Michigan Boating Industries Association. This weeklong campaign offers many opportunities to get started with boating, get back onboard or learn some new skills to use on the water, including free on-water boat demos!

Michigan Boating Week also aims to help protect Michigan’s waters, and that starts with the same people who love and enjoy them. June 6-7, staff from the DNR, DEQ and MDARD will be on-hand at selected boating access sites for the Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Landing Blitz. These events will educate boaters about how they can become stewards of the water by sharing information about how to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.

Check these event listings to find a Michigan Boating Week event near you.

How do you like to spend time outdoors in Michigan? 

photoMaia Turek is the DNR Recreation Programmer for state parks.  She and her team of regional programmers put together hundreds of events every year – from Rec 101 and Fresh Air Fit classes, to family reunions, church campouts, and volunteer events – they work hard to provide every Michigan resident and visitor a reason to come to a state park and make a lifelong memory in Michigan’s woods and waters.