Great Outdoors show in Perry draws thousands

Great Outdoors show in Perry draws thousands

wcrenshaw@macon.comFebruary 9, 2013 

PERRY -- At the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter on Saturday, Heritage Hall sounded like it had been invaded by a giant flock of deranged turkeys.

All around the building vendors were selling various devices intended to mimic the sound of a wild turkey, and people were trying them out, some more expertly than others.

It was part of the Great Outdoors Show, the Georgia Wildlife Federation’s annual event expected to draw 17,000 during its three-day run. The show continues Sunday.

It combines what used to be separate events, the Turkeyrama and the Fisharama, that have been combined into one event since 2008.

In 1998, Tommy Roberts and his two brothers, all cabinetmakers from Oakwood, visited the Turkeyrama and it turned out to be a good business decision. After checking out some of the handmade wood turkey callers, Roberts got an idea.

“I just told them, ‘I think we can do this,’ ” he said. “It has been going gangbusters.”

They started Roberts Brothers Turkey Calls and devised a patented caller that uses a disc with a piece of scratched glass inserted. A wooden rod is rubbed against the glass to create the sound.

They still build cabinets, but with the slowdown in housing construction, the turkey-caller arm of their business has paid off, he said.

On Saturday afternoon, top turkey callers demonstrated their skills in a competition. To eliminate any possible bias, judges sat behind a curtain where they could hear only the sounds each caller makes. They know the caller only by a number.

A turkey isn’t necessarily the best judge of a turkey caller, said Mark Sharpe, of Claxton, one of the five judges.

“A turkey is going to make mistakes,” Sharpe said. “Our goal is to find the one that sounds like the most perfect turkey.”

The show featured a lot more than turkey calling. Various seminars and demonstrations related to hunting and fishing are held throughout the day.

At the same time as the turkey-calling contest, over at Fairgrounds Lake, Roy Coffey gave a dog training demonstration with the help of his black Labrador, Sinbad. Coffey operates Retriever World, which specializes in training Labrador Retrievers for duck hunting.

He said it takes four to six months to fully train a dog at a cost of $600 per month, but he told the audience they can do it themselves if they get some know-how, the right equipment and have some patience.

“The easy part is training the dog,” he said. “The hard part is training the owner.”

Other popular draws include a reptile show and archery range for children. Also, people lined up for autographs from Sonny Shroyer, who played Enos Strate on the “Dukes of Hazzard.” An even longer line waited to meet Bobby Brantley, star of truTV’s reality show “Lizard Lick Towing.”

Leslie Bateson of Homerville has been coming to the show for years and this year brought his grandkids because they wanted to see Brantley.

“It’s just a good, family event and everybody is nice,” he said.

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.

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