Destination Michigan 507

Courtney: Hi and Welcome to Destination Michigan. We’re here to explore
the beauty, creativity, and destinations in
our Great Lake State. Tonight we’ll meet some
outstanding Michiganders, and we’ll travel
across the Mitten to visit the communities
that make Michigan unique. Tonight’s journey
embarks in the eastern upper peninsula home
to one of only four wooden boat building
schools in the nation. Next, Stefanie Mills
will step into the wild at the Grand Rapids
John Ball Zoo. After that a little
cheese and cake tasting is on our to-do list.
Then Bob Garner introduces us to Greg Abbas
and his hunting products made in Beaverton.
I’m Courtney Jerome and you’re tuned in
to Destination Michigan. Voiceover: Support for
Destination Michigan is provided by
the CMU Bookstore, t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats,
maroon and gold memories, and an official outfitter
of Adidas apparel at the Central
Michigan University owned and operated
CMU Bookstore. Online shopping
seven days a week at
The CMU Bookstore online at,
on campus in the University Center,
and game day locations at Kelly Shorts Stadium,
and the CMU Events Center. (lively music)
Courtney: For many Michiganders heading east
after crossing the Mackinac Bridge is a rarity;
however, when it happens we realize
the pristine eastern upper peninsula beauty
of the Les Cheneaux Islands is truly worth the trek.
The 36 islands provide sheltered channels and bays
within the Straits of Mackinac, and off this Lake Huron coast
lies the town of Cedarville, a historic harbor area
for boaters and explorers. It’s also the home
of career craftsmen and hobbyists alike.
Voiceover: With over 11,000 inland lakes,
and over 3,000 miles of Great Lake shoreline,
Michiganders are bound to see beautiful
wooden boats coasting through our waters.
If you see one up close, it’s hard to miss
the details and precision that goes into its building.
Restoration and new boat building like these
are done by talented craftsmen, mostly by a generation
that’s nearing retirement. Luckily, there’s a new
generation to pick up where they’re leaving off.
In the U.S. there are wooden boat building schools
in New England and Seattle, but the only inland
wooden boat building school is on the Great Lakes
in the town of Cedarville. Bud: The other schools
are on the coast, and that combined with
the fact that there is such a maritime heritage
not only in our area, but throughout the
state of Michigan and the broader Great Lakes area
that we just felt like that there would be
an audience and a constituency for
both our full-time and our summer students.
Voiceover: A core group of Yoopers committed to their goal
of beginning a school of their own
created the Great Lakes Boat Building School
welcoming their first class of students
in September 2007. The school’s career program
takes two years to complete. Voiceover: A lot of
the students coming in had very limited or
no woodworking skills, so the program that our
lead instructor, Pat Mahon, has set up really helps
everybody start from a common point and
it just begins with a little stepstool and
then they’ll build a shipwright’s tool chest,
then they’ll build a pair of oars,
and then they build a series of small boats,
and then they work on their larger boats.
All this happens within a nine-month period.
Voiceover: To give you an idea of how intricate
and dedicated a wooden boat craftsman
has to be, look at the board this student
is working on. Earlier in his first
year, this one board would have taken two
whole days to perfect. Now that he’s at the
end of his first year, he’ll work on it for
a good four hours. Bud: Second year focuses
on building a larger more complex boat.
Usually the boat will be 24 to 30 feet.
Besides building the boat itself,
the students also learn what’s called yacht joinery.
They learn how to build all of the cabinetry
that goes into the boat. They also learn
about marine systems, how to install the
engines, steering system, some of the controls
that go in there. It’s not a full
marine systems program because that’s a specialty
in and of itself, and people go for nine
months just to learn that, but we teach the fundamentals
of marine systems so that they’re confident
to install an engine and a steering system
and that sort of thing in the boat.
Voiceover: With typically an average of
17 to 20 students enrolled in career courses,
they range in all ages from right out of high school
to people beginning their second careers.
Alumni then find jobs in wooden boat building
and restoration shops, or they start their own.
But the Great Lakes Boat Building School
also offers summer workshops for those
who are interested in learning aspects
of the craft without the commitment.
Voiceover: We’re the only one of the four major boat
schools that has an active summer program like this.
We have a range of classes in the summer.
The core projects are boat building classes,
and these are component boats. Everything is already
pre-cut so basically what you’re doing with an
instructor’s assistance is you’re putting
that boat together. It uses wood and epoxy
and so it’s a very strong light boat, very well designed.
We had a Woodworking for Women class
that they wanted to learn how to use
the table saw and the planer, and build something nice.
So they’ll build an Adirondack chair.
They’ll build a nice boat-shaped bookshelf.
We have a fly rod making class this summer.
We had a metal casting, a bronze casting class.
It’s a real wide range of classes
that we offer in the summer. Voiceover: While
this range of classes varies from summer to summer,
you’ll find anything from paddleboards
to kayaks to create. The school expanded
partnerships in 2013 for these summer workshops.
Nowadays, classes are held not only in Cedarville,
but in Charlevoix and Traverse City too.
Voiceover: It’s partly about getting a boat built
that they’ll then go on and use, but it’s also a
tremendous family activity that fathers and daughters,
fathers and sons, grandfathers and grandsons
do together so it’s a real mix of ages
and I guess one of the cool things is
it’s a real bonding experience. You have to pay attention
to what you’re doing. It is fun, but then
when you leave here at the end of the week,
you’ve got a nice boat that you can use when
you get back home. The whole thing has
got some immediate satisfaction and some
long-term satisfaction when you’re all done with it.
Voiceover: For some the satisfaction comes
from a weekend, whole week, or two years
spent learning the wooden boat building trade
at the Great Lakes Boat Building School,
and for others, we’ve gained a whole new
appreciation for the beautiful wooden boats
we see floating on our Michigan lakes.
Courtney: The boat building school has contributed
millions of dollars to the Cedarville community
and local economy since it began.
Also, something to note, the area has
an annual boat show in August to celebrate
a variety of vessels. To learn more about
the Great Lakes Boat Building School,
their website is Now we’ll head down the
west side of Michigan’s lower peninsula where
Destination Michigan’s Stefanie Mills
goes into the wild and gets up close
with nature at the John Ball Zoo.
Let’s learn how this Grand Rapids destination
works year round to preserve wildlife.
Voiceover: As soon as you enter the gates
of the John Ball Zoo, street noise gives way
to squeaks and squeals along with plenty
of oohs and aahs. You immediately feel
like a kid again as you begin exploring all
the different animal exhibits. Our journey began on one
of their latest additions, this three-car trolley
called a funicular where we learned a little
bit about the zoo’s history. Andy: We are one of the
oldest zoos in the country. Actually, the zoo itself
is over 100 years old. It originally was donated.
John Ball donated 40 acres to preserve
and maintain for the purposes that we
are using it for today. Voiceover: At the zoo,
preservation lies at the heart of its mission.
They have more than 2,000 animals who live here
including more than 240 different species.
Andy: We are, really the mission of the zoo
is to educate individuals about wildlife,
and really educate them on conservation
in a way that they can take that back
and enact it in their lives. So really,
conservation, education, and animal care here at the zoo.
Voiceover: From lions, tigers, and bears
to more exotic ones in the tropics building,
visitors will come face-to-face with animals
not just found in Michigan, but around the world.
Andy: I would say there’s a variety.
We actually have quite a few different
small primates here at the zoo which is always
great for visitors to get a chance to see.
This year we’re bringing on the forest realm
habitat of our tiger exhibit. That will open up in
the Summer of 2014. Then in Spring of
2015, the other portion of the tiger exhibit
will open up. What’s unique about this
is the two different habitats really, you
would see Amur tigers here at the zoo.
The kind of habitats we’re creating
are really showing visitors that they can actually,
they’re good swimmers and they can live around
rivers and swim in ponds and that kind of thing,
but they also live in a forest much like that
that you see here. Stefanie: When you come
to the John Ball Zoo, you’re going to
see and do things that you don’t get to every
day like ride a camel. Andy: We have some
that are interactive where you can go in
and get a hands-on experience with the animals,
some where we might interact with the animals
from behind a barrier and you can see that.
A large variety for people to experience
and see and enjoy. Voiceover: If walking
with wallabies is on your bucket
list along with some other close
encounters, you’re in luck. Andy: Here at the
zoo we try to create a family-friendly,
interactive environment so really anyone
of any age can come and learn about wildlife.
The hands-on exhibits that we have
involve pygmy goats, to a corral with
some larger goats, and sheep as well.
You could then travel across the world maybe
get a hands-on experience here with wallabies.
They might come right down next to you.
You can put your hands onto a sting ray
at the sting ray lagoon. Voiceover: It took the
sting rays a little while to warm up to us and our camera,
but eventually they came around. Now from sting
rays to the eagles, all animals are kept
under close supervision. 16 zookeepers oversee their
care on a daily basis. Dan: The crucial
role of zookeeper is all aspects of animal care
so everything from cleaning, to feeding,
to training, to enrichment. We have to also do
medical procedures. We have a vet staff, but
a lot of the zookeepers here will help our vet staff
with medical procedures. Voiceover: For some
of the zookeepers, working here is
just getting to do what they love to do
Keith: We get to work with a wide variety
of animals including some small mammals,
and really the best part is the reptiles
and amphibians in here. If we’re taking care
of this building, it’s a lot of
cleaning, a lot of care of them every day so
the first thing we do when we walk in the morning is
check to make sure everyone is okay
which may not seem like a lot of work,
but with this many animals in the building
it can take quite a while to make sure
that everyone’s alive and well, and happy and healthy.
Voiceover: Keeping things natural
and undisturbed is important not just for the animals,
but for the overall feel of the zoo.
The hilly landscape provides visitors
with a unique opportunity to view exhibits
from multiple angles. Andy: We’ve tried to
create an experience that isn’t just for your
everyday zoo visitor as well. As people get up into
the upper elementary, and the middle school
and high school range, they really enjoy some
of the things like the zip line and
the ropes course. You know, get up in the trees,
get up in the space where animals live
and get a chance to experience that environment,
what it’s like to be up in the trees like an animal.
Voiceover: The zoo has also become a destination
for many other events including weddings
inside their Bissell Tree House with the
Grand Rapids skyline serving as a beautiful backdrop.
As you can see, there are many fun, unique,
and different ways to experience the zoo
when you’re here, but what matters most
is what you leave with. Andy: We have these
animals for visitors to come and see and
interact with in some cases, and really they’re
here so that you can learn about them and
hopefully take something home with you that
allows you to act a little differently
and hopefully apply that in your daily life to
better the environment for the species in the wild.
Courtney: The zoo also has an outreach program
where they take animals to schools
and visit children in the hospital.
They have helped fund more than 100 projects
through their wildlife conservation fund as well.
To learn more about their programs
and upcoming events, head to their website
at Our next stop in the
Mitten is an area many drive through
on trips up north. Running parallel to I-75
along the Saginaw Bay, the M-13 stretch is
where you’ll find lots of great locations to stop at.
Tonight we’re chatting about the cheese
that this area is most commonly known for.
Voiceover: Back in the early 1940s, Bay County
boasted with dairy farms and cheese
manufacturing plants. In the 1990s, the last cheese
manufacturing plant left, but the area is still
known for their famous Pinconning secret recipe cheese,
and they’re even recognized with the title,
Cheese Capital of Michigan. It’s not cheddar, nor Swiss,
or Gouda that they’re known for rather the brand of cheese
is Pinconning cheese. There are several
shops in the area that still process and sell
that cheese today. Marty: There’s Wilson’s
the original Cheese Shoppe in Pinconning.
There’s the Pinconning Cheese Store
and Fudge Shop that’s actually right across
from Wilson’s. It was one of the original
highway cheese stores. Then further south
there’s Williams Cheese which is a big cheese processing
and retail store there. Then on the advent of
I-75 freeway put in there’s the Cheesehouse
that’s out on the I-75 freeway exit out there.
Voiceover: So that means you can buy
Pinconning cheese north, south, east and west
of the cheese city. Their squeaky cheese
is the freshest. People travel from
all over the Mitten and even farther
to get their hands on these cheese curds.
Of course, there’s also mild, medium,
sharp, and extra sharp cheese to taste everywhere you go.
Voiceover: They all have blocks of cheese,
full blocks, and they also age cheese
at these places. That’s some of the
uniqueness of each of these. Voiceover: Now the
process of aging Pinconning cheese is
an interesting one. We spoke with Michael Williams
of the Williams Cheese Company in Linwood
on how they take a cheese curd and turn it into
different finishes of cheese. Michael: So aging,
humidity, time is what makes a piece of cheese
become from a mild state to a medium, to a sharp,
to an extra-sharp, and then cheese, in
the case of cheese it can take years to
become an extra sharp piece of cheese.
Voiceover: When we first start to cure the product,
it takes at least 30 days to get the cheese
to become more like a medium mild
where the curd is softer and you get a mild flavor
which in the old days, the consumer had
two things on their mind when they
went to the supermarket, a piece of mild cheese,
a mild piece of mild cheddar or American cheese,
and that’s very mild both concepts.
But to get to a medium cheese, it can take
as many as three to four months. For a good piece
of sharp cheese, it can take six to nine months.
We pride ourself on extra sharp cheese
which can take years in some cases.
Michael: When we talk about sharp cheese,
we’re talking about right here. That’s what sharp
cheese does to you. It’s on your palate
back in here, and it’s something
that’s very unique. Voiceover: A visit to
the Pinconning area is unique all on its
own as you can make a day of it tasting
different shops’ cheeses and exploring
businesses that have received national attention.
Sporty’s Wing Shack and Smokehouse
was featured on the Food Network’s
Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives show,
and Bittersweet Quilt Shop has been in
Better Homes and Gardens magazine.
Voiceover: We also have another meat market
called Valley’s Meat Market, anybody that walks into
there will attest to it that the meat counter is
just out of this world. I mean, it’s stacked
high and he does over 3 million pounds
of meat each year. They come in there
early in the morning and they’re cutting
meat all day. The meat is fresh and
they also have some Pinconning cheese there
too to go along with it. I don’t think you
could walk in a place almost within Pinconning
though that you will not see some
mentioned, or a smile, a cheesy smile on
everybody’s face. Courtney: The area
celebrates Pinconning cheese with their annual
CheeseTown Challenge 5K, and Macaroni and Cheese
cook-off in June. Let’s continue our
travels to taste some creative cakes in Lake Ann.
Stefanie Mills shows us how a northern
Michigan woman is creating some truly
unforgettable desserts. Stefanie: No wedding or
birthday party is complete without a cake.
Today we’re introducing you to a Lake Ann woman
whose decadent creations aren’t just delicious,
but true works of art. Ann: I love to decorate them.
I like to do all the little work,
all the flowers, so it’s actually the decorating
that I love. I do like to bake.
I love to eat cake, but I really love to decorate.
I love to see the end product of the fruits
of my labor I guess you could say.
Voiceover: Ann Barraclough’s uniqueness
is on display year-round along her road just west
of Traverse City. Over the past 25 years,
she’s baked thousands of stunning, wild and wacky
cakes for all occasions. Baking is just something
that’s been a part of her life long
before it became a way of life for her.
Voiceover: I baked with both of my grandmothers.
My mom baked a little bit. I have a cousin that
bakes quite a bit so baking was kind of
something that I grew up with. Being in the restaurant
business, you kind of just are in tune to watching
people and what they do, bakers, pastry chefs.
I always loved to bake. I used to try to make
cakes for any reason, try to come up with a
way to make a fun cake other than just a
traditional iced cake. Then people started
asking me if they could pay me to make
cakes so that’s how that got started and it just
got to be more and more. Voiceover: In 2006, she
opened the Cake Barn next to her home and
started her business Aunt B’s Cakes and Desserts.
Ann makes everything from scratch
including the frosting. She’s self-taught and
knows a thing or two about the food industry.
Throughout here decorated career,
she’s worn many hats. Voiceover: I’ve
worked in restaurants my whole life actually
everything from bussing tables to
washing dishes, cooking, managing a five-star
restaurant, bartending. So I’ve always been
in the food industry. Love food.
I don’t have any formal training.
It’s just trial and error. You do something.
If it doesn’t work try it a different way.
Stefanie: It doesn’t matter if you have
a sweet tooth or not, Ann’s creations
are a feast for eyes and taste buds.
So good. Voiceover: I’m a
pretty creative person. I wouldn’t call myself
an artist per se. I guess when I have a
pastry bag in my hand I’m an artist, but just
seeing what you can come up with, the ways,
what you can do with sugar, manipulate it to make it
look like it’s not sugar, something real.
Voiceover: Everything you see on her cakes
is usually edible like on this one,
and she tries to incorporate local ingredients
whenever possible. If you have a
dream cake in mind, odds are Ann can
bake it into reality. Voiceover: If there’s
something specific they want on a cake, maybe
I can’t make it exactly but we can incorporate
those interests and hobbies. That why when for cake tastings
for wedding cakes I try to sit down with people
and really get their vision because you want the cake to be,
you want it to be unique at your wedding.
You want it to reflect you as a couple.
I’ve done some wedding cakes that are just
really unusual and very colorful wedding cakes.
When you make these cakes, it’s hard to
pick a favorite because there’s something different
like the baby shower cakes. You love those because
they’re so cute, and then wedding
cakes you love those because they’re so pretty.
Then you do comical cakes, birthday cakes.
I’ve done some pretty far out there cakes.
Some that you don’t take pictures of
because they shouldn’t go in your album. (laughs)
Voiceover: Nowadays, baking has gone by the way
with many people leaving the fate of their
sweets to the professionals, but if you’re lucky
enough to have Aunt B make your next cake,
odds are you’ll be in for a treat.
Voiceover: When you take a cake and you
can make it very personal, that’s the great thing.
That’s the fun thing for the person that’s
receiving the cake. Courtney: If cake isn’t
your piece of pie, Ann Barraclough can
also whip up some other sweet desserts some
of which you can find at local area businesses.
To learn more of her incredible creations,
check out her website
Now as you know, Destination Michigan’s
outdoorsman, Bob Garner, is an avid hunter.
Tonight he’s taking us to Beaverton
where A-Way Hunting Products makes unique
deer and turkey calls. Bob: This time on
Destination Michigan, I’m just north of one of
my favorite Michigan towns, but I’m taking part
in one of my favorite springtime activities.
(turkey call) Voiceover: Beaverton
is where old friends, Greg and Kim Abbas have
their turkey and deer calling business,
A-Way Hunting Products. Greg was Michigan’s
champion turkey caller for many years, and
still hand tunes every single turkey call
that leaves his shop. Out front is his tribute
to his father, Fred, who has put more
Michigan bucks in the record book than anyone else.
For years, Greg did a show called
A-Way Outdoors on the Outdoor Channel
with his dad, and a look at his trophy room
shows that he’s been around the world.
Bob: When did you start calling critters?
Greg: I started calling critters when I was just a little kid.
I’d come home from school and I’d practice, practice.
I’d make animal noises. Here we are today, because
I made these noises, we’ve got A-Way
Hunting Products. We make these deer
calls and turkey calls, and it was just a
passion ever since I was a little kid.
Bob: You’ve got the select turkey calls,
the crème de la crème that don’t go out of here
until they’re tuned by you and signed by you.
What’s the story behind that? Greg: We have made our
niche with all these large companies on
either side of us because we’re
extremely innovative. That’s what our
company’s known for as is our turkey calls.
I want to make sure that every turkey call
that goes out sounds proper, sounds good.
I don’t want to put something out there
that’s just mass produced and doesn’t sound
right. (turkey call) I don’t want them coming back.
I want people to really like them
and like how they sound, and bring in those turkeys.
I want to see those pictures, and I want them
telling their friends how nice these calls are.
So I enjoy tuning the calls. (turkey call) I enjoy
having unique calls such as the Turkey Trooper
with volume control, very unique, probably
our best seller. The Box Call, the
Double Trouble Box Call, Bob: Oh, yeah.
Greg: and it’s for a purpose and does special things.
(turkey call) Bob: Tell me about your
operation over here. Greg: You know,
it’s still a small, family-run operation.
Bob: It’s better that way isn’t it?
Greg: I love it. I’m still hands-on.
You know what, if you call A-Way Hunting Products
and you need to talk to Greg Abbas,
you’re going to reach him. I like being smaller.
My wife or sister-in-law may answer the phone,
and they can handle most of the things,
but it’s nice that it’s family-run.
I like keeping my hands on and keeping the pulse
with the public. Bob: You’re right into
it still hunting turkeys here and there?
Greg: Oh, yeah. Yeah, I love it. I still love the turkey hunting,
but I love calling for people more than pulling
the trigger myself. (turkey call)
That’s really nice. My advice to younger
people up and coming now including my daughter,
follow your passion and the money will follow.
When I moved away from the city, people thought I
was crazy because Bob: Sure.
Greg: But you know what? I’m so happy up here,
and I love it. Nature is just outside my door.
When I’m done with work which is right next door
to the house, I could come out here and
we have a small farm. I could feed the chickens.
I could go horseback riding, and do my gardening,
or go fishing in the pond, or just go for a walk out back.
I love it up here. I love Michigan
and I love nature. Courtney: More information
about their products and services can be
found at Now we’ll conclude our episode
with some Destination Michigan trivia for you.
As you’ve learned in a previous episode,
there’s a northern Michigan company
that got started thanks to a laundry error.
When her husband accidentally shrank
her wool sweaters, Sue Burns created BaaBaaZuZu.
So our trivia question for you is what town is the
upcycled garment company based out of?
Stay tuned for the answer. Voiceover: Support for
Destination Michigan is provided by
the CMU Bookstore, t-shirts, sweatshirts,
hats, maroon and gold memories, and an
official outfitter of Adidas apparel with
the Central Michigan University owned and
operated CMU Bookstore. Online shopping
seven days a week at
The CMU Bookstore, online at,
on campus in the University Center,
and game-day locations at Kelly Shorts Stadium,
and the CMU Events Center. Courtney: Our Destination
Michigan trivia question for the night,
what town is upcycled garment company
BaaBaaZuZu based out of? The answer is Lake Leelanau.
You can find one-of-a-kind BaaBaaZuZu designs
in retail shops across the state,
across the country, and across the globe.
Now in celebration of completing their 20th
season BaaBaaZuZu recently decided to relaunch
a baby and children’s collection as well as an all
new spring line to their website
Thanks for joining us tonight on Destination Michigan.
We hope you’ll tune in again and learn more about the state
we all love to call home. (lively guitar music)

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