By Dan Hansen Correspondent
Oshkosh, Wis. — Men, women, and kids who enjoy the outdoors
aren’t spectators – they’re participants. They won’t settle for
just watching, they need to be a part of the action. And
participation is what the Ducks Unlimited (DU) Great Outdoors
Festival is all about, according to the event’s local chairman Jack
The seventh annual DU Great Outdoors Festival will take place
Aug. 26-28 at the EAA Convention grounds in Oshkosh, and Nugent has
led the volunteer effort that has made the first six rousing
“I’ve been a fan of the festivals since DU held its first one in
Memphis and thought that Wisconsin, with its great outdoor heritage
and the way folks here support outdoor activities, would be a great
place to have one,” he said. “Once we got started at the EAA
grounds, which is an incredible facility, it’s just grown and has
become a labor of love for me.”
Nugent noted that the DU Great Outdoors Festival in Oshkosh is
the largest interactive hands-on event in the country, and it
continues to grow each year.
He stressed that everyone attending the festival will have an
opportunity to test their skill in nine specialized villages.
Special Kid Zones in the villages have activities and equipment
for young outdoor enthusiasts to try.
“They can fish in the catfish tank, shoot bows, climb the rock
wall, shoot .22s, and test-ride bikes and participate in craft
activities and educational seminars,” Nugent said. The
Wisconsin-based television series, Into The Outdoors, invites kids
to play Passport to Adventure, for a chance to win prizes.
Also highlighting this year’s event will be the return of the
DockDogs long jump event.
“This has become a real crowd pleaser,” Nugent said.
“We’ll also have just a tremendous number of ATVs and utility
vehicles on the tracks this year, with several new entries there,
including virtually every ATV manufacturer,” he said. “And almost
every manufacturer of firearms will be here, including some who
haven’t been here in the past.”
Returning to Oshkosh will be Byron Ferguson, master of the
longbow, with demonstrations and tips for festival attendees.
World-renowned shotgunner Tom Knapp will perform in the shooting
sports village, along with cowboy action shooters.
New to this year’s festival will be special seminars from
several of the nation’s top outdoors writers and editors. Craig
Boddington will talk about new magnum cartridges and Western big
game. Gordon Whittington, of North American Whitetail, will talk
about deer management trends in Wisconsin and provide tips on how
to manage land for deer. Fishing expert Rob Neumann will provide
new information about walleyes.
Top bowhunters Jay Strangis and Larry D. Jones also will conduct
seminars all three days in the Exhibitor Village.
“They’ll be giving people lots of valuable advice and the latest
hunting and fishing information,” Nugent said.
This year’s festival also will see an expanded Conservation
“This is the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service’s bird surveys, and we’ll have two of the aircraft involved
in those bird surveys in our Fish and Wildlife tent area,” Nugent
said. “We’ll also have people and equipment from the Wisconsin DNR
in the Conservation Village.”
Nugent praised the numerous volunteers for their contributions
to the success of the festival.
“Many of our volunteers have been here for the full seven years,
but each year we have several new volunteers,” he said. “It all
harkens back to Wisconsin’s great tradition as an outdoor
Festival hours are from noon to 7 p.m. on Friday; Saturday from
9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Advance discount
tickets, priced at $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 6 to 12,
are on sale now at participating Supervalue, IGA, Festival Foods,
County Market, and Gander Mountain stores.
Adult tickets also are available on-line at www.dugof.com for
$13 and kids’ tickets are $7. At the gate, the tickets will cost
$15 and $8. Parking is $5 and children 5 and under and dogs on
leads are admitted free.
“The Ducks Unlimited Great Outdoors Festival is really all about
families,” Nugent said. “There are lots of activities for Mom, Dad,
the kids and even the family, and bring Grandma along, too.”