Fun Park opens for 61st season

Published 11:58 am Friday, June 4, 2010


Regan Eddy, 5, of Gary, Ind. feeds a deer at Deer Forest Fun Park on Memorial Day weekend. Photo by Katie Johnson

Have you ever heard a hog snore? Or fed dozens of deer from the palm of your hand? Ever rode a child-size pony?

If you have, it’s very likely you’ve visited Deer Forest Fun Park, a vacation destination like none most of this generation of kids has ever seen.

Once a common roadside attraction, independent petting zoos are becoming a thing of the past as they make way for theme parks and larger, mainstream zoos.

Deer Forest, in Coloma near Paw Paw Lake, is one such park that may face extinction if sold. The 61-year-old park was put up for auction in September, with no takers.

Manager Bob Neitzel, however, said their “best intention” is that Deer Forest remains a family park.

“We put the park up for sale at the end of last year,” Neitzel said. “It didn’t sell. It’s still up for sale.”

Although items and certain animals were sold at the auction, it was left largely intact and has been prepared for full operation for this season and at lowered rates in keeping with the economic conditions.

“Basically, what was sold were items we didn’t need and animals that could be replaced,” said John S. Modica, who co-owns the park with his cousin, John R. Modica.