Michigan’s biggest outdoor show celebrates 69 years in Grand Rapids

New speakers, calling competitions, free ORV safety class, Ultimate Clinics and more at Ultimate Sport Show–Grand Rapids, March 20 to 23 at DeVos Place

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. — March has arrived in west Michigan and we all know what that means: it’s time for the biggest, oldest and best attended outdoors sport show on the west side of the state. If you’re an outdoor enthusiasts who wants to pick up a good deal on hunting or fishing gear, learn a new tactic, or just enjoy a day in the company of other like-minded sportsmen then head to DeVos Place March 20 through 23 for the Ultimate Sport Show–Grand Rapids.

For the past 69 years the show has put Michigan’s unparalleled outdoor resources in the spotlight with entertaining and educational activities. This year’s four-day show will continue that tradition – in the ultimate way!

A main attraction Lake Ultimate at the Ultimate Sport Show Grand Rapids is the center of free fishing seminars, the Ultimate Air Dogs and more!

A main attraction – Lake Ultimate at the Ultimate Sport Show Grand Rapids is the center of free fishing seminars, the Ultimate Air Dogs and more!

“West Michigan residents have a passion for recreating in the outdoors and this show is a testament to that passion,” said Show Manager Ben Nielsen. “For 69 years this show has been the focal point of springtime in West Michigan and this year’s show continues that tradition. With hundreds of boats, hunting and fishing exhibitors, dozens of outfitters and guides, over 100 educational seminars, and features like the state taxidermy competition, Big Buck Night-West and the Ultimate Air Dogs there really is something for everyone, male and female, young and old.”

The Best Deals on Boats, Tackle and Gear

According to Show Producer Henri Boucher, between 30,000 and 35,000 patrons annually attend the Ultimate Sport Show. They come to peruse the four acres of goods, gear and conservation displays packed into spacious DeVos Place.

A dozen boat dealers are bringing more than 100 fiberglass and aluminum boats from top manufacturers to this year’s show. Most will offer factory rebates, extended warranties, special discounts or other incentives making the Ultimate Sport Show-Grand Rapids a veritable supermarket for people looking to buy a new, fully-rigged boat for hunting and fishing.

The show lures everyone from major national manufacturers – who bring their impressive direct-factory exhibits – to one-of-a-kind producers of specialty fishing lures, game calls and other outdoor-sport accessories. Patrons have a chance to learn about and to buy many of these products only at the Ultimate Sport Show because they’re not sold in sporting goods stores and other retailers.

An expanded archery and crossbow shooting range and a fly-fishing demonstration area allow patrons to test new gear before buying.

Trips Galore at Outfitter’s Expo

Hunting and fishing guides and outfitters from Alaska to Africa make the Outfitter’s Expo a relative show within the show. Patrons can compare features, offerings and prices from a wide selection of Canadian fly-in fishing and hunting trips, big game hunts out West and exotic safaris to Africa. Michigan offerings are also available in full force with charter boat captains, inland lake and river guides, hunting preserves and family-destination vacation resorts reserving space.

Many tourism agencies and convention and visitors bureaus from Michigan and beyond rate the show a must-do on their promotional schedule. Why? Because the long-standing show is so huge that patrons come from throughout the state, as well as Indiana, Ohio, Illinois and Ontario.

State’s Best Taxidermists and Woodcarvers

Taxidermy and wood carvings like this beautiful carved trout are just some of the family friendly attractions at the 2014 Ultimate Sport Show Grand Rapids

Taxidermy and wood carvings like this beautiful carved trout are just some of the family friendly attractions at the 2014 Ultimate Sport Show Grand Rapids

The Michigan Taxidermist Association’s annual state competition and display of award-winning mounts, located on the third floor Grand Gallery Overlook, is the first stop for many show patrons. Judges are flown in from around the nation, and the winning results are announced on opening night of the show. Patrons get to see between 200 and 300 lifelike displays.

The Grand Rapids-based Woodland Woodcarvers also attract an admiring crowd with their stunning display of lifelike art. These, and many other attractions, are free with admission.

The State’s Best Seminar Lineup

Seminars by more than 40 of the best hunters and anglers in the business are another big draw. This year, the Ultimate Sport Show will offer more than 120 informative seminars led by experts such as walleye professional and former AIM Angler of the Year Marianne Huskey and morel mushroom expert Theresa Maybrier of Team Morel. There will also be fishing seminars on catching everything from bass, walleyes and muskies to perch, panfish, salmon and trout. Hunting seminars will cover turkeys and deer, training your bird dog, controlling your scent and managing your land to produce more wild game. There will also be seminars on wilderness adventure canoeing and kayaking, as well as getting kids started in fishing, and more. Continuous seminars will be held on six different stages including the 110,000-gallon Lake Ultimate and the 5,000-gallon Hawg Trough.

Special two-hour Ultimate Clinics will be offered on walleye fishing, salmon and trout fishing, bass fishing and getting the most from your electronics. These clinics cost $25 each for class materials, but the money is returned to participants through “goodie bags” loaded with sponsor samples.

The National Wild Turkey Federation’s Grand Valley Chapter will offer a turkey-hunting workshop, WBBL is hosting a Kids Catching Competition on Lake Ultimate, and Steve Francis of Country Smokehouse in Almont will demonstrate how to process a white-tailed deer.

Big Buck Night West is Standing-room Only

Speaking of whitetails, Big Buck Night – West, presented by Michigan-Out-of-Doors TV Show, will take place Thursday night at 7 pm. Celebrity hosts Jimmy Gretzinger and Jenny Olson will interview the lucky Michigan hunters who bagged some of the largest white-tailed deer of the 2013 season.

Family Fun Activities Galore

There are plenty of hands-on activities available at the Ultimate Sport Show. The Michigan DNR brings a pellet gun shooting range to DeVos Place. For a nominal $1 fee, which goes to conservation, NRA-certified instructors teach accuracy and safety to shooters of all ages.

The Northern Little League will operate one of the state’s best trout ponds; the Michigan Charter Boat Association will have its virtual fishing simulator at the show; the Grand River Fly Tyers will offer free fly casting lessons to beginner and advanced fly fishermen; and a rock-climbing wall will be available for adventurous patrons who want to test their climbing skills. The affordable fees for these and other activities go to scholarship programs and other charitable causes.

Milt Wilcox’s Ultimate Air Dogs will once again make a big splash on Lake Ultimate and the antique and classic fishing tackle display and an exhibit of vintage boats and motors always attract crowds.

Michigan’s largest outdoor show will also feature fly tying demonstrations by the Great Lakes Fly Fishing Company and the Grand River Fly Tyers and fish-cleaning demonstrations by the Grand Rapids Steelheaders.

World Record Muskie

The International Game and Fish Association (IGFA) has compiled a list of the 10 best world record catches and one fish from the USA made the list. That fish, a 58-pound, 58-inch Great Lakes muskie, will be on display at the Show. Joe Seeberger of Portage, Michigan caught the fish on Lake Bellaire in Antrim County. He will be on hand at the show to recount all the exciting details.

Open Turkey Calling Contest Returns

On Saturday evening between 5 and 7 pm, an assortment of clucks, purrs, yelps and cackles will fill the air at DeVos Place as the annual Grand Rapids Open Turkey Calling Competition takes place. Hosted by the Grand Valley Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation, the event will feature some of Michigan’s top callers as they compete for cash and prizes.

Huge Gathering of Conservationists

Conservation clubs, state and federal agencies and non-profit organizations always have a strong presence at the Show and this year will be no different. The Michigan Charter Boat Association, Michigan Coalition for Responsible Gun Owners, the Michigan Muskie Alliance, the MSU Fishing Club, the National Rifle Association and the River City Bass Club are some of the organizations that have reserved space.

State and federal agencies from the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission and the state Department of Natural Resources to the Michigan Secretary of State and the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol will have staff on hand to answer questions from show patrons.

Non-profit groups like Operation Injured Soldier, Pink Rack Project, Scholastic Clay target Program and Sportsmen for Youth will have displays outlining their goals and aspirations.

Free ORV Safety Certification Class

ORVs and ATVs are gaining popularity in Michigan as the state’s trail system continues to expand. In response to the growth in that industry, the Kent County Sheriff’s Department is offering an ORV certification class on Saturday only, from noon to 5 p.m. The course is available to everyone, but children under 16 years old must be certified to operate an ORV in Michigan, even on private property. For additional information call (616) 632-6223.

Annual Food Drive Challenge

Last year’s Michigan Sportsmen Against Hunger Food Drive, spearheaded by the popular WLAV-FM morning show host Tony Gates, was a huge success with more than 2,000 bags of non-perishable food donated by show patrons. The popular promotion occurs only on opening day of the show, Thursday, March 20.

“I challenge the sportsmen of West Michigan to step up to the plate,” says Show Producer Henri Boucher. “Let’s show just how thoughtful and sharing Michigan’s sportsmen are by beating last year’s total. Bring a bag of food for those less fortunate and we’ll let you into the show for free on Thursday.”

Bring your donations (minimum of 4 pounds or 6 cans or boxes) to the RV parked on Monroe Avenue in front of DeVos Place and get free admission to the Ultimate Sport Show. The food will be donated to God’s Kitchen and other needy organizations. Help Tony Gates and MSAH volunteers from the Rockford Sportsmen’s Club set another record this year!

Ultimate Sport Show Guarantee

We formally guarantee that anyone who attends the Ultimate Sport Show will catch more fish in 2014 than they did in 2013.
The only requirements are:

  • The angler must attend at least one fishing seminar and pay attention.
  • The angler must check out the selection of thousands of the newest lures, accessories, electronics, rods and reels and buy some (your success in 2014 will be affected in direct proportion to your purchase.)
  • The angler must inspect the features of the really cool fishing boats that are on sale at the Ultimate Sport Show by Michigan’s finest dealers who specialize in rigging boats to enable you to catch a maximum number of fish.
  • The angler must engage at least three outfitters or guides in conversation to find out how great the fishing can be in Canada, Alaska, Michigan or 17 other states.

If you attend the Ultimate Sport Show-Grand Rapids and complete these very simple and enjoyable requirements we will formally guarantee that you will catch noticeably more fish this year than last. Look for the Guarantee Affidavit in the Official Show Program.

Free Lures

The first 500 attendees on Thursday and Friday receive a free, collectible Dardevle spoon from Eppinger Manufacturing Co. in Dearborn. The first 250 attendees on Saturday and Sunday will receive a K&E Bass Stopper lure from Stopper Lures in Hastings.

The Ultimate Sport Show-Grand Rapids is at DeVos Place March 20 to 23. Show hours are 3 to 9:30pm Thursday; 11am to 9:30pm Friday; 10am to 9pm Saturday and 10am to 5pm Sunday.

Admission is $10 for adults, $4 for children ages 6 to 14 and children 5 and under will be admitted free.

Discount coupons are available in the Grand Rapids Press and at Wendy’s.

Filed Under: Ice Fishing News

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About the Author: Dan Kimmel is an avid angler, outdoor photographer and outdoor writer who becomes a computer guy in his downtime running web sites like this one, GreatLakesBass.com and AnglerHosting.com among others.

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