Explore Michigan’s great outdoors at Bay City State Recreation Area on Saturday, Feb. 15, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. as the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) hosts the 21st annual Winter Festival. The annual festival is offered on the Saturday of Michigan’s Free Fishing Weekend and is one of many DNR “Just Add Snow” special events happening throughout the state for the entire family.
The Winter Festival kicks off at 9 a.m. with the annual Youth Ice Fishing Clinic, where participants construct a fishing pole jig stick, learn how to rig it, design an ice fishing jig, learn about ice fishing safety and get a few tips on how to ice fish. A family ice fishing derby on the park’s Tobico Lagoon starts at 9:30 a.m. Bait and loaner fishing poles will be provided. Pre‑drilled holes for ice fishing will be offered to all children participating.
Winter Festival will offer indoor and outdoor activities for all ages, including bird hikes, bird feeding workshop, a “snowball” tournament, puppet shows, Native American Snow Snake Clinic and tournament, ice crystal treasure dig, snowshoe hikes out to the beaver lodge, and an opportunity to learn how to carve fish decoys.
A 3 p.m. Live Birds of Prey program presented by Wildlife Recovery will kick off the event’s Owl Prowl activities, which give participants an opportunity to learn about Michigan’s owls, dissect an owl pellet and accompany a naturalist on a Full Moon Owl Calling Hike. Participants will be eligible for many prizes and trophies awarded throughout the day. Visitors will also have the opportunity to learn about other outdoor opportunities at area nature centers and wildlife areas and how to enroll in the DNR Waterfowl Legacy project.
The festival is co-sponsored by the Saginaw Bay Walleye Club and Frank’s Great Outdoors of Linwood.
"The Winter Festival is a great opportunity for area families to try out ice fishing and discover how to enjoy our area’s rich abundance of wildlife resources. All equipment and instruction is provided,” said park interpreter Valerie Blaschka. New this year, youth will be able to learn how to carve and use a fish decoy. This will kick off a series of Sunday afternoon programs on fly tying, which will be offered at the visitor center in February and March.
The Bay City State Recreation Area is located at 3582 Park Drive in Bay City. For more information, stop by the Saginaw Bay Visitor Center, located within Bay City State Recreation Area, or call 989-667-0717.
This event coincides with Free Fishing Weekend; no fishing license is required, however all fishing regulations still apply.