For years the Northwestern Michigan Fair (since 1975) had been the lone wolf of family activity near Chums. During the 80s a teen nightclub opened and stuck around for a couple of years. But for the most part, the area has been home to a farm implement business, used car dealerships, and a few fast-food operations.
That has all changed. Now, Chums Corners boasts four new family-friendly options. In addition to the fairgrounds (look for a feature on the 100 years of the Fair in the August 4 Express), the Beach Bums, Wilderness Crossing, Zeroed In and TC Paintball are now residents of the Chums Corner region.
The opening of Wilderness Crossing this past March has filled a much needed-void for a year-round indoor family entertainment venue. Part of the Silver Lake Crossings complex, this 34,000 square foot facility has everything but a water park (we have plenty of those), from bowling to laser tag to mini golf to an arcade. Add in the Wild Pony Salon, which doubles as a night club and sports bar, and a family is easily able to make a day out of Wilderness Crossing.
Wilderness Crossing is the vision of husband and wife team Leslie Lake and Kerry Smith. The two created their vision from owning other bowling alleys in Northern Michigan and listening to what their customers were looking for. One big thing many were looking for was a smoke-free bowling environment, and thats exactly what they have created.
Wilderness Crossing is a family-friendly, safe environment, said Tammy Schuster, a spokesperson for the operation. We have multi-age activities that create multi-generational fun. It is great to see grandparents and grandkids having fun side by side.
While nightclubs and bowling alleys have been havens for smokers, Schuster said management decided to buck that trend.
In general, society is moving towards healthier environments, said Schuster. We are getting more compliments then complaints, and most smokers are getting used to going outside.
The formula seems to be working. While Wilderness Crossing had a silent opening this past spring, word is spreading quickly.
What is great is parents are able to sit in the sports bar and know that their kids are safe playing laser tag or games in the arcade, said Schuster. We also are booking in local and headlining bands for the nightclub. So we really have something for everyone.
Wilderness Crossing, with its 16 lanes of bowling, large arcade with new and classic games, laser tag arena, mini golf, and large billiard room, is perfect for a family outings, birthday parties or a couples night on the town. The Wild Pony Saloon is also family-friendly and offers an assortment of classic American fare including pizza and burgers.
If you are looking for something different for a wedding reception, family reunion, bachelor party, corporate meeting or team-building session, Wilderness Crossing offers banquet facilities as well. For additional details on any banquets or family fun check out wildernesscrossing.com or call 231-943-0893.
Zeroed In Gun and Archery Range
Another business in the Silver Lake Crossings Complex that Ted Nugent would endorse as family-friendly is the Zeroed In Gun and Archery Range.
This year-round facility offers indoor shooting options for both pistols and rifles as well as bows. Plus, theres a 3D archery option and video simulator to improve your skills.
Eight lanes with target carriers are on-site to improve your shooting. On the archery side, theres a 37-yard range.
Dont have a firearm? No problem -- you can rent one at Zeroed In for $15 per hour.
Zeroed In hosts leagues and competitions and offers a variety of classes. Check out zeroedinrange.com or call them at 231-943-4246.
Entrepreneur Wayne Berry has been a longtime advocate for paintball. He launched TC Paintball in 1999 and operates a large retail operation at Chums Corners. He also recently opened the TCP Xtreme Paintball Park near Copemish on 53 acres.
The concept of paintball was reportedly developed in Michigan in the early 70s as a way to mark trees and cows. Inevitably, someone shot someone with a paintball gun, and by the end of the 70s paintball competitions started popping up. While at first viewed as a para-military activity, paintball has become more mainstream, or maybe extreme.
We see families doing this all the time. It is great for kids of all ages, said Berry. At our range we have hosted family reunion events, bachelor parties and corporate events.
His retail center is a great start for the veteran or beginner paintballer.
How we differ from online or a boxstore paintball operation is with our customer service and our pricing, said Berry. We have free lifetime service agreement. Plus we are owned by people who play paintball and we are open seven days a week.
For more information on TC Paintball check out tcpaintball.com or call 231-943-0248.
Traverse City Beach Bums
Now in their third year, the Traverse City Beach Bums and Weurfel Park has become a popular summertime destination for families.
The vision of John and Leslye Wuerfel and their son Jason, this minor league team has brought professional baseball to Northern Michigan. While there is plenty of action on the field, it is the between-inning action and the off-field activities that make minor baseball popular with families.
The baseball game is just part of it. We are creating an experience for families and others. This is about entertainment as much as it is about baseball, said Leslye Wuerfel. We expected this to be a social gathering place when we decided to do this. Thats exactly what is has become -- a place where people of all ages are entertained and have fun.
The between innings shenanigans range from audience participation events such as running the base paths for free food, to mock home-run derbys, to racing Suntan or Sunburn (the teams mascots). The fun has helped the Beach Bums attract more than 200,000 fans in each of their first two seasons.
Friday night fireworks, food (brats and burgers fresh off the grill) and the playground are all popular attractions. Most nights there is some sort of giveaway, from hats to baseballs and even gloves.
This year, Wuerfel Park will play host to the Frontier League All Star Game July 15-16. The first day will feature an awards luncheon, home run derby, skills competition and autograph session. The second day will feature the all star game with post game fireworks.
Tickets for the Beach Bums and the All Star contest are reasonably priced. For a schedule, a look at the upcoming promotions, to buy tickets visit traversecitybeachbums.com.