The Bay City Times - Updated Jan 21, 2019; Posted Apr 15, 2010
"We can not do this forever, " said owner of Deer Acres Storybook Amusement, Rodger Cederberg, on Wednesday April 14, 2010, about selling Deer Acres in Pinconning, Mich. After 52 years Cederberg is deciding to sell the storybook amusement and a factor in deciding to sell came when his wife Sharyl, left, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer January 2010.
FRASER TWP. — In the Bible, the book of Ecclesiastes tells us that to everything there is a season.
This summer may be the time for a storied children’s amusement park between Linwood and Pinconning to close for good.
So says Rodger Cederberg, whose family operated Deer Acres Storybook Amusement Park on M-13 in Fraser Township for 50 years. “It’s been a fixture for so many years that you hate to see it close, but there’s a time for everything,” said Cederberg, who finds himself the park’s owner again after a failed land contract purchase agreement fell through last year.
One thing is certain at this point: Deer Acres will not open its gates on Mother’s Day weekend in May as it has for decades.
Cederberg and his wife Sharyl are hoping to sell the 15-acre park for $195,000 and say they would be happy to help the next owner get the park up and running again.
“Even if it’s less than I’d get at an auction, it’s worth it to me to do it,” said Rodger Cederberg, whose parents established the park in the late 1950s.
According to the Bay County Register of Deeds Office, the park has an assessed value of $88,700, which is about half the cash value of the property.
In its heyday, Deer Acres drew upward of 30,000 visitors each year, Cederberg said. Families came to see the live deer and other animals that roamed the property.
Much has changed at the park, including the removal of the whitetail deer because of concerns over tuberculosis and wasting disease that have impacted Michigan’s deer population in recent years.
The park’s other animals were sold last year so Cederberg wouldn’t have to winterize their enclosures. Auctioning the park piece by piece is another option Cederberg is considering. He said the park’s Ferris wheel, carousel, train and car ride could be sold and used in another park.
But he’s holding out hope that a buyer can be found in the next month or two, and Deer Acres can open in time for Fourth of July weekend, typically the biggest weekend of the year for the park.
That’s the outcome Pinconning City Manager Richard Byrne is hoping for. “It’s always been a place for the little kids, the preschoolers,” said Byrne, who has taken trips to Deer Acres with his grandchildren. “The Cedar Points and such are more for the teenagers. “I hate to see it close, but I hate to see any business up here close.”
When Rodger Cederberg retired in 2008, the future of Deer Acres looked bright. In December 2008, Cederberg sold Deer Acres and 30 acres of adjacent land to Stephen and Crystal McDaniel, a Chicago-area couple who moved to Bay County to operate the park.
The McDaniels paid $525,000 for the park and land and invested additional money to make repairs to some of the park’s structures and add new features, including a miniature golf course.
Crystal McDaniel said a combination of a cold, rainy summer last year and a poor economic climate kept people from coming to the park. Despite giving out free passes and lowering the price of admission, she said the business failed to turn a profit. “When it didn’t rain, it was too cold,” McDaniel said. “People coming in for free couldn’t afford to spend one more dime once they got there.”
McDaniel calls losing the park “the saddest thing that’s ever happened to our family.”
She said she and her husband are facing bankruptcy and could lose their home. But she said she would buy Deer Acres back in a heartbeat if she could afford to keep it running.
“We have really good memories of the time we had it and we don’t regret buying it,” McDaniel said. “It really is a beautiful park and it has the potential.” Cederberg said he has shown the park to some potential buyers, but has had no offers to b uy the place. “What we would love to see is somebody come in and run it and take over,” Cederberg said. “That’s why we’re telling people to just come make us an offer.”
I don’t know where the last poster found his information, but it’s totally incorrect. The park has never had a connection with anyone from Texas! The Cedarberg family built Deer Acres in 1959 and owned it until last year, when a family from the Chicago area purchased the park.
These folks didn’t make it and lost the park back to Roger Cedarberg last fall. He has since sold it again to a Bay City businessman. They’re trying to get everything together to close on the sale, but until they do, no one is sure if the park will get open this year. If it does, it will be a short season as the new buyer has big plans to change the park, which requires time when the park isn’t open to the public. He can get a lot done with it closed and the weather is still warm. If I hear an more news about Deer Acres, I’ll post it here.