Various livestock sold at Muskegon County Youth Fair during Large Animal Auction

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By Tony Wittkowski | Reporter | MLive – Muskegon Chronicle

SULLIVAN TOWNSHIP, MI — Walking along the pen’s fence, the Holstein known as Bow stopped and lifted his head up briefly at the onlooking crowd.

With seven years of 4-H under her belt, Kenna Botten ushered her bovine friend back around the pen that was layered with rubber mulch to the holding area. Bow was sold at Muskegon County Fairgrounds, and all the hard work Botten put in came full circle.

“It’s kind of crazy — you have to get all your animals washed and make sure there are no stains on them,” Botten said back in the holding area. “When buyers come through, they can see that you take care of your animals and want to buy them.”

Taking part in the Large Animal Livestock Auction for the Muskegon County Youth Fair on Thursday, July 24, livestock were sold by the pound as they were showcased in front of a few hundred people. Some slowly began to drop in price, while others peaked at $3.50 per pound. The first animal brought out was a 1,230-pound steer that went for $2.10 per pound.

Jenny Erffmeyer, who is the livestock committee superintendent and 4-H leader, was backstage and watched as every steer, swine, sheep and goat was sold.

“Most of these people are businessmen who come out to support the kids; they are supporting the program,” Erffmeyer said. “Some of these kids use this money for college education or funding next year’s project.”

The 2014 Muskegon County Youth Fair large animal live auction was held at the Muskegon County Fairgrounds on July 24, 2014. (Tommy Martino | Photographer)

The 2014 Muskegon County Youth Fair large animal live auction was held at the Muskegon County Fairgrounds on July 24, 2014. (Tommy Martino | Photographer)

Amid the blue jeans and green John Deere shirts, spectators held a pen and a pad of paper at the ready as the animals made their way around the pen. When an animal is sold, the exhibitor must get the invoice from the buyer, who writes down his number and the livestock he purchased.

The auctioneer’s voice echoed over the fairgrounds, spitting out numbers at an inhuman rate for the prospective buyers.

The chaotic nature of the auction came down to not just the animals, but the people involved with the event. Two men circled the enclosed pen and raised their hands while yelling to the auctioneer. These “bid catchers” scanned the crowd and yelled loudly when someone showed interest in the current livestock.

With smiles on their faces, the fair exhibitors walked their livestock around the pen, occasionally having to nudge and coerce the strong-headed animals to continue on their trek. Animals were eventually led in from an outside holding area behind the auctioneer’s stage.

One of the fair exhibitors, who was taking part in Muskegon’s auction for the first time, was Whitehall resident Jakob Hicks.

Auctioning off his dairy feeder steer named Dusty, Hicks was also auctioning a steer for the first time. However, the task didn’t seem to stack up the way he had figured.

“It’s a lot of work,” Hicks said. “We were told that there was a lot more profit in it, but when you start adding everything up – the cost of feed, corn, hay, show halter – it all adds up and you really don’t make that much.”

Meanwhile, back from their brief trek in front of the eager crowd, Botten and Bow made it back to the holding area, having reached their goal.

With a few taps on the rear end, the 5-month-old Holstein held his own in front of the auction’s spectators. The march out to the open pen in front of the crowd can be the hardest part for the animals and the exhibitors.

“It’s very nerve-wracking,” Botten said. “You want at least two bidders to bid high so you can get more money, and you want to make sure your animal acts well. It makes you look like you worked hard for it.”

Tony Wittkowski is a staff reporter at MLive Muskegon Chronicle. Email him at twittkow@mlive.com and follow him on Facebook and on Twitter.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on July 24, 2014)

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Fishing Report: Walleye, white perch biting in Muskegon Lake

By Tony Wittkowski | Reporter | MLive – Muskegon Chronicle

MUSKEGON, MI — A school of small fish can go a long way.

Bill Funk, owner and operator of Shoreline Service Bait and Tackle, said a few fishermen have been noticing younger fish around the Muskegon area.

“We’ve been spotting a lot of smaller walleye that are not big enough to catch yet,” Funk said. “It looks good for next season, and bodes well for our future.”

The walleye that are in full length have been getting caught in Muskegon Lake by fishermen who used spinners and crawlers, Funk said. Ironically, a few steelhead and white perch were being scooped up by others who were trying to catch walleye.

Funk has heard from customers that some of the better bluegill have been caught around the docks in the local marinas.

“They are also finding some over by the black buoy in 8-10-foot waters,” Funk said. “Try the bridge in front of the Bear Lake Channel. People have been catching perch on minnows, and some pike over by the east end of the lake.”

According to the latest fishing report from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, pier anglers in Muskegon were trying for salmon and steelhead, but had no luck. Boat anglers were running baits between the surface and 90 feet down. More fish were caught on white paddles with blue flies or spoons.

Muskegon River has been producing a few trout for those who are avid in fly fishing, Michigan’s DNR said. Smallmouth bass fishing was good for those using crawlers, leeches and crayfish.

Whitehall boat anglers reported a thermocline about 65 feet down and most found fish in 160-200 feet. Those fishing across from Stoney Lake did well, where everything has worked, including the use of dipseys, lures, copper and flies.

Boat anglers were running in the top 90 feet of waters 120-150 feet deep, this past week in Grand Haven. Those using paddles were starting to catch more fish, as Michigan’s DNR suggested using white paddles with blue flies or blue and gold spoons.

Kyle Buck of Great Lakes Guide Service said fishing this past week has been pretty good.

“It sounds like a broken record, but the steelhead fishing has been outstanding. We have been boating good numbers of very large steelhead this season,” Buck said. “With the wind we have had the past few days, the lake is very mixed up, but the fishing should remain good.”

Tony Wittkowski is a staff reporter at MLive Muskegon Chronicle. Email him at twittkow@mlive.com and follow him on Facebook and on Twitter.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on July 24, 2014)

Man stabbed in lower extremities near Bike Time festivities; police have suspect in custody

A man was stabbed on West Western Avenue, on Saturday night, July 19, 2014 outside of the Fraternal Order of Eagles. (Tommy Martino | Photographer)

A man was stabbed on West Western Avenue, on Saturday night, July 19, 2014 outside of the Fraternal Order of Eagles. (Tommy Martino | Photographer)

By Tony Wittkowski | Reporter | MLive – Muskegon Chronicle

MUSKEGON, MI — A man was stabbed Saturday night in downtown Muskegon near the Bike Time festivities.

Muskegon Police Department officials said a 27-year-old man was stabbed in the lower extremities at approximately 11:45 p.m. July 19, on the corner of Seventh Street and West Western Avenue, near the Fraternal Order of Eagles.

“We have a suspect in custody,” a Muskegon Police officer said. “We were called out for a disturbance, but they didn’t give us a reason why it occurred.”

The victim was taken to a nearby hospital to be treated for a minor wound. The name of the victim and suspect were not released.

Police officers had the area marked off and quarantined for a portion of the night.

A witness at the scene — who wished to remain anonymous – said the victim was stabbed in the left hip.

Tony Wittkowski is a staff reporter at MLive Muskegon Chronicle. Email him at twittkow@mlive.com and follow him on Facebook and on Twitter.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on July 20, 2014)

Creative Ink: Bike Time’s Tattoo Contest draws inspiration, humor

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By Tony Wittkowski | Reporter | MLive – Muskegon Chronicle

MUSKEGON, MI — Motorcycles and tattoos go hand-in-hand when it comes to Muskegon Bike Time.

For the eighth annual Tattoo Contest, a number of bikers and Muskegon residents paraded on stage Saturday, July 19, and showed off their intricate ink at the Budweiser Beverage Tent located on the corner of Fourth Street and Steel Horse Alley.

Among those covered in ink was Grandville resident Steve Melton, who won Best Sleeve for the collection of tattoos on his arm.

“The inspiration of my sleeve is the South. I’m a Southern boy, have been all my life,” Melton said. “On my arm I have my rebel flag, with the freedom of my eagle coming out of it. I love my heritage.”

Melton’s elbow drew a few cheers from the crowd, as it showcased a peace sign in which Melton said he got because “all Southern boys down South like a ‘piece’ of something.”

It took Jim Cutler from Grand Haven about 85 hours to cover his entire back in tattoos that were dominated by a dragon.

Cutler, who won in the Black and White Category, also had skin diver piercings on his arms that were surrounding by tatted skin.

The reasons for some of the tattoos seemed to be crazier than the tattoos themselves. One of the contestants had a Dorito located on his back shoulder blade — he claimed it was there so he would always have a chip on his shoulder. A mechanic welder said he chose to have flames tattooed on his forearm because of how many times he had set that arm on fire.

Others had more sentiment in their creation. Three-year breast cancer survivor and Newaygo resident Angie Christine had an image of a female superhero imprinted on her arm, which included a pink ribbon interwoven into the cape.

Dwayne Hoek from Grand Rapids took home the award for Most Realistic Tattoo, as his elaborate tattoos ran along the entire right side of his body.

After a couple of years, more than 200 hours worth of work and $3,500 in expenses, Hoek had the collage he was looking for.

“It’s a totem I put together of wildlife and growing up out West,” Hoek said. “I told my artist ‘This is what I’m looking for,’ but I asked her to take ownership as an artist. She changed a lot of things, but presented them to me first.”

Outside of all the sobbing mermaids and naughty nurses, the tattoo that really impressed the judges belonged to Muskegon resident Juan Garcia.

Garcia, who won Best Overall, had a mural of Alien fighting Predator amid a chaotic background located on his back.

Guy Weersing, one of the four judges who were blown away, said he was trying to see who had the best line work and the best overall work.

“The guy that won was by far and away the best work,” Weersing said. “Better than everyone by far, not just a little bit.”

As an airbrush artist of 49 years, Weersing has been a judge for Bike Time’s Tattoo Contest since the beginning. The amount of contenders, as well as the quality, has increased at the popular competition, Weersing said.

“I’m surprised on some of the quality of work that’s been here today,” he said. “Over the last five years, the work has improved drastically.”

Tony Wittkowski is a staff reporter at MLive Muskegon Chronicle. Email him at twittkow@mlive.com and follow him on Facebook and on Twitter.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on July 19, 2014)

Motorcycle crash sends two to hospital; condition of subjects unknown

A motorcycle caring two people crashed on Friday, July 18 on US-31 near the North Muskegon exit. (Tony Wittkowski | Reporter)

A motorcycle caring two people crashed on Friday, July 18 on US-31 near the North Muskegon exit. (Tony Wittkowski | Reporter)

By Tony Wittkowski | Reporter | MLive – Muskegon Chronicle

MUSKEGON, MI — Two motorcyclists crashed at the south end of the causeway at Business US-31 late Friday night.

A Muskegon Police officer confirmed it was a single-vehicle accident that took place at approximately 10:30 p.m. July 18, involving the one motorcycle that was down at the scene.

The current state of the two who were on the bike at the time is unknown, but both were taken away by Pro Med.

Traffic was being diverged away from the North Muskegon exit, where M-120 and US-31 split into two roadways.

The area where the bike was lying was cleared away, and portions of the road surrounding the bike were being sprayed for debris.

Check back with MLive Muskegon Chronicle as we continue to update the motorcycle crash.

Tony Wittkowski is a staff reporter at MLive Muskegon Chronicle. Email him at twittkow@mlive.com and follow him on Facebook and on Twitter.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on July 18, 2014)

Extreme Custom Bike Show showcases unique motorcycles during Muskegon Bike Time

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By Tony Wittkowski | Reporter | MLive – Muskegon Chronicle

MUSKEGON, MI — Steel and metal were on display for the Extreme Custom Bike Show on Friday, July 18 at Hot Rod Harley-Davidson.

The bike show, which will end on Saturday, July 19 with a grand prize announced for each division, had thousands of Muskegon Bike Time spectators filtering in and out of the main tent, inspecting this year’s robust lineup of metal and machine.

Bob Kay, co-promoter of Biker Pros, was on hand to explain how riders could earn the cash prizes, which had the same setup as the Road Championship Series.

“We have classes based on platforms, so you have the bagger type bikes, the freestyle bikes where they are only limited by their imagination, the retro bikes and everyone’s favorites – the modified Harleys,” Kay said. “The builders themselves actually vote on who gets the money, but we also have a people’s choice as well.”

The bike show was based on peer judging, which means each rider could not vote on their own motorcycle. The reason Kay said this voting format was chosen was because no one knows better than the builders on what goes into making these custom bikes.

Kay said he expects there to be at least 30 bikes by the time judging starts, which will include a few extra minutes for riders to pitch their bike on why they deserve to win.

“Each builder has 60 seconds to talk about what is special about his bike,” Kay said. “So, from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. we’ll get the final bikes in here.”

The biggest cash prize will go to the first-place winner for the Freestyle Division, which racks up to $1,500. The Modified Harley winner will take home $1,000, with both the Radical Bagger and Retro Modified divisions posting a $750 cash prize.

With more than 40 years of experience, Kay is still surprised by what comes through those gates.

“In every show there is somebody that comes out that does something just a little more different, that is a little more creative,” Kay said. “That’s what it’s all about. We do this for the builders and for our love of motorcycles.”

Among the proud owners was Jim Robertson from Royal Oak, who was there with Paul Richards, the maker of his bike.

Nicknamed “Bad Apple,” Robertson’s bike was one of many showcased under a big tent in the lower-level lot near the concert venue. His 2006 Harley-Davidson Road Glide had just about everything, including a 1,000-watt custom stereo controlled by a mini-iPad.

The 930-pound motorcycle took more than a year and a half to be completed, Robertson said, but the process was often delayed because Robertson changed his mind on what it should look like.

“We went through and disassembled the whole bike,” Robertson said. “The frame alone has a $2,000 paint job. It’s an extreme bagger that can be ridden anywhere in the United States.”

Richards, who has been working on bikes since 1996, had three full builds on hand at the bike show that he reconstructed, which included Robertson’s bike.

When the motorcycle craze first took off, people gravitated toward what they thought looked cool, Robertson said. Recently, the Kalamazoo resident has noticed a shift toward the more “comfortable” rides.

“At first, they looked at the baggers that are so comfortable now as ‘gezzer glides,'” Robertson said. “But soon the markets were flooded with baggers. Right now the baggers are the mainstream motorcycle.”

Tony Wittkowski is a staff reporter at MLive Muskegon Chronicle. Email him at twittkow@mlive.com and follow him on Facebook and on Twitter.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on July 18, 2014)

Muskegon Bike Time shows early signs of excitement for various riders, spectators

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By Tony Wittkowski | Reporter | MLive – Muskegon Chronicle

MUSKEGON, MI — As the first day of Muskegon Bike Time began to roll in Thursday, residents and visiting bikers alike began to see West Western Avenue transform into “Steel Horse Alley.”

Traffic cones lined the center of the street in anticipation for Bike Time, which takes place from July 17-20. As spectators walked closer toward the string of bars in downtown Muskegon, more bikes could be spotted, parked in a row diagonally along either side of the street.

With more than $400 worth of tattoos on his right arm, Kirt “Bubba Glide” Lampman sat on his bike and watched in silence as others rode past.

The Fruitport resident had been to Muskegon for Bike Time before, and had a few reasons as to why he preferred this motorcycle event over others.

“This is one of the bigger ones around,” Lampman said. “Muskegon has the lakeshore, and no place else can you get that. It’s beautiful because you’re right on the lake.”

Among the riders, words like “camaraderie” and “freedom” were in use as many spoke about what it meant to ride a motorcycle.

Tom Rahn, a Jackson resident, was among those who thought of freedom when around another bike.

Since Bike Time came to Muskegon half a dozen years ago, Rahn has been to every one, promoting motorcycle riding within his own state, while trying to meet more riders who favor the open road.

“We promote motorcycle riding in this state and fight for bikers’ rights,” Rahn said. “Look at all the different plates that are here from out of state — that’s what we support. (Motorcycles) bring tourism to this state.”

While bounce houses, tents and food stands began to emerge Thursday, it was two semis carrying Miller Lite and Budweiser that got the most attention from spectators.

Many bikers were out walking the streets and taking in the scene as vendors attempted to sell their products, which ranged from an unlimited selection of sunglasses to baby onesies that housed the Harley-Davidson brand.

A majority of the bikers made stops to look at a few older bikes that were on display outside of the Muskegon Heritage Museum.

On hand was Adam Winters, chief engineer for the Muskegon Heritage Museum, who was speaking with anyone who was curious about some of the older models.

“We are collecting antique bikes for the museum,” Winters said. “The newest bike we have here is 35 years old.”

One of the bikes available inside later on is a 1913 Henderson 4, which is 100 years old.

However, one of the main attractions was the 1942 WLH Harley Davidson that was used during World War II. With its faded green paint job, accompanied by a white star on the gas tank, motorcycle enthusiasts flocked to it. The fabled bike even had a gun holster for a small rifle near the front wheel in arm’s reach of the would-be rider.

“The World War II bike is a rock star around here,” Winters said. “We had it here last year for the first time, and nobody walked by without pointing or taking a picture of it.”

Tony Wittkowski is a staff reporter at MLive Muskegon Chronicle. Email him at twittkow@mlive.com and follow him on Facebook and on Twitter.

(Author’s Note: This article was originally published on July 17, 2014)