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State Parks offer jam-packed summer

June 22, 2012
By Zach Kukkonen ( , The Daily Mining Gazette

HANCOCK - Those looking for outdoors events to attend locally over the summer do not need to look any further than a pair of state parks.

McLain State Park and Fort Wilkins State Park both offer an abundance of events over the summer, with one occurring at either location nearly every night. Activities are for all ages, although some of the McLain events are geared a little more toward children.

"Basically, it's a chance to take kids out and see nature around the park," McLain State Park Explorer Guide Zach Eckert said of the McLain events. "It's not anything super intense, it's just some fun things kids can do while they're out at the park. There are a lot of different activities."

While the McLain events are featured as fun activities for kids, they are also informational.

"The goal is I can teach you something and let them have fun," Eckert said.

McLain events range in everything from agate hunts to nature hikes.

"We're doing a nature hike (today) where I take people out, identify a lot of different trees and talk about different kinds of birds," Eckert said.

Fort Wilkins, meanwhile, has a handful of book signings, programs and other presentations throughout the summer to go along with a few major events. The season kicks off July 2 with author Harvey Desnick giving a presentation titled "An Evening with Fort Wilkins Wildflowers," and nearly every weeknight following through August has an event.

"We hope to get a lot of people to come out and enjoy our events," said Jill VanderMeer of Fort Wilkins State Park. "We'll have guest speakers on all kinds of subjects."

Outside of the daily events in July, the special event will be the annual Battery D encampment from July 27 through 29, as the 1st Michigan Light Artillery, a Civil War-era living history group returns for the 27th year. Hours for visiting will by 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. The group will re-enact army life of the period, demonstrating artillery and small arms drills, cooking and pastimes.

In August, the Copperman triathlon will take place at the Fort Wilkins boating access site and "Fort Wilkins by Candlelight" will also be featured. The Copperman will commence at 9 a.m. Aug. 4, while the candlelight event is Aug. 11.

"(Fort Wilkins by Candlelight) is where people can come in the evening and see the fort by candlelight and interact with 1870s residents," VanderMeer said. "We're also going to have a historic fashion show, and there will be refreshments."

The summer schedule finishes off Sept. 22 with a geocaching/fall festival event starting at 10 a.m.

For more information about Fort Wilkins events, call 289-4215. For more information about McLain State Park events, call 482-0278 or visit,1607,7-153-10369-147119-,00.html. A Recreation Passport is needed for admission to state parks.



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