ESCANABA - The Upper Peninsula Trappers Association will celebrate 50 years of serving U.P. trappers at this year's UPTA convention, held in Escanaba next week.
This year's convention will take place July 13 and 14 at the Ruth Butler Building from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on both days. Trappers, non-trappers and the public are invited to attend. Admission is $2 for adults, with children 16 and younger free. Lunch is available for purchase at the convention, and attendees may camp on the grounds for $20 per night.
According to Bob Steinmetz, of the UPTA and U.P. director of the National Trappers Association, the UPTA convention is hosted by four districts across the U.P. He said there originally were five districts involved until one broke off to form its own organization. Until recent years, each district would host a convention for two years before switching to another district. Delta County is represented by district three, along with Menominee and Dickinson counties.
"Some of the other districts weren't wanting to host a convention and we did it a few more times than our share, and we also found out that the dealers and vendors loved this particular facility and the centralized location," said Steinmetz. "Our vendors really like it because of the building and because we turn out a bigger crowd than the other districts."
Now the event is always hosted in Escanaba by the four remaining districts.
Steinmetz said this year's event will feature at least 25 vendors specializing in trapping equipment and related items. There will also be hunting equipment, guns, boats and ORVs, special predator hunting supplies, Intarsia Wood Products, fishing creels and trapping baskets, live traps, heavy duty waders and hip boots, trapping magazines, and more, available for purchase.
Attendees can also attend trapping demos by top trappers - some of whom have trapped throughout the world.
World-famous predator hunter Les Johnson will also be doing a demonstration both days.
"We've also got everything from craft dealers, jewelry, rug makers - lots of different small vendors," he said.
Kids can also take advantage of fishing at the DNR Pocket Park, as well. Prizes will be awarded for any fish that are caught.
Steinmetz said there will be mini raffles held each day. Attendees can purchase five tickets for $1 for their chance to win various $5-10 items donated by vendors, such as traps, flashlights, books and other small prizes. They will also hold can raffles for larger items to be raffled, such as custom hunting knives, fur hats and other valuables - for $1 per chance.
This year's event is expected to be well attended.
"The last couple years it's been down because fur prices have been down, but a few years ago we turned out about 1,500 people over the two-day period," said Steinmetz. "This year we've got a lot of local sponsors sponsoring advertising for us, and we expect a much bigger crowd, plus fur prices did increase a little bit this past season. We're anticipating a record crowd probably beating our best year ever."
The UPTA began in 1962 in L'Anse, when between six and eight trappers met in the living room of Leonard and Ester Lahti, according to the UPTA website. It officially became a functioning organization in January 1962.
For more information on the U.P. Trappers Association, visit www.uptrappers.com.