Explore Michigan’s great outdoors at Bay City State Recreation Area on Saturday, Feb. 16, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. as the Department of Natural Resources hosts the 20th annual Winter Festival. The annual festival is offered on the Saturday of Michigan’s Free Fishing Weekend and is one of many “Winter Project GO Get Outdoors” special events offered throughout the state for the entire family.

The Winter Festival kicks off at 9 a.m. with the annual Youth Ice Fishing Clinic. As part of the clinic, participants construct a fishing pole, 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. An ice fishing derby 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 activities for all ages, including morning bird hikes and bird feeding workshop, a “snowball” tournament, live wildlife presentation, Snow Snake Clinic and tournament, ice crystal treasure dig, snowshoe hikes out to the beaver lodge, and an evening owl-calling hike. Participants will be eligible for many prizes and trophies awarded throughout the day.

The festival is cosponsored by the Saginaw Bay Walleye Club and Frank’s Great Outdoors of Linwood. For a complete schedule, visit the Saginaw Bay Visitor Center page on the DNR website at www.michigan.gov/saginawbayvc.

“The Winter Festival is a great opportunity for area families to try out traditional outdoor winter recreational activities. All equipment and instruction is provided,” said park interpreter Valerie Blaschka. New this year, youth will be able to learn how to tie a fly for ice jigging. This will kick off a series of Saturday 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. A Recreation Passport is required for entry to the park.

The Recreation Passport is an easy, affordable way for residents to enjoy and support outdoor recreation opportunities in Michigan. By checking “YES” for the $10 Recreation Passport ($5 for motorcycles) when renewing a license plate through the Secretary of State (by mail, kiosk, online at www.expresssos.com or at branch offices), Michigan motorists get access to state parks, recreation areas, state forest campgrounds, non-motorized state trailhead parking and state boat launches. In addition, Recreation Passport holders can enjoy real savings at businesses and retailers that participate in the Passport Perks discount program.

The Recreation Passport is valid until the next license plate renewal date. Nonresidents can purchase the Recreation Passport ($29 annual; $8 daily) at any state park or recreation area or through the Michigan e-Store at www.michigan.gov/estore. *Starting Jan. 2, 2013, the purchase price of the Recreation Passport is $11 for Michigan residents.

Learn more about this creative way of sustaining Michigan’s outdoor recreation and natural resources at www.michigan.gov/recreationpassport. For information on Passport Perks shopping discounts or how businesses and retailers can enroll in the program, visit www.michigan.gov/passportperks.

Logo from Michigan Department of Natural Resources

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