After Tough Start, Businesses End Summer On A High Note

Anita Campbell
County Reporter
After a record-setting season of flooding, area marina owners and merchants were elated to have a beautiful Labor Day weekend.  Thousands of visitors to the area enjoyed great weather to boat, swim and fish. It was a fitting end to a big bounce-back for businesses here in Benton County, where the Lake of the Ozarks meets Truman Lake.
According to Truman State Park Ranger Erin Cordrey, 1,244 visitors passed through the doors of the Truman Dam Visitors’ Center. The biggest day was Saturday with 441 people at the Overlook.
The Overlook will be open until October 31 and then will reopen for “Kaysinger Christmas” December 6 and 7.
Truman State Park Marina had a great weekend according to manager Lisa Garrison. “Business was great all weekend,” said Garrison. “I just wish this had been Memorial Day weekend instead of Labor Day.”
Although the rainy weather and the flooding caused a drop in business, Truman Marina did not close during this time instead the staff shuttled customers back and forth to their slips.
“We shuttled our customers for 76 days,” said Garrison. “The positive side to all the shuttling is that we became acquainted with our customers in a way that might not have happened without all the shuttling back and forth.”
Garrison is optimistic about next year.  “We have wonderful customers and we look forward to next season.”
Truman State Park Marina will be open until October 31.
Labor Day weekend was the best that owners Ken and Cathy Beyer have experienced since owning Sterett Creek Marina, Motel and Campground.    The campground at Sterett Creek was full all weekend and all the slips were full at the marina.
“It was great to finally have a real holiday this summer,” said Cathy Beyer.
The campground was full with people enjoying campfire during the cool evenings.
“It also was a very busy weekend at The Minnow with people staying to enjoy a drink or dinner,” said Cathy.
Sterett Creek was shut down completely Memorial Day as the water came over the road. They remained closed until the second weekend in June.  The staff then shuttled customers back and forth from their vehicles to their boat slips until July 16.
“We need more usable high water ramps on Truman,” said Ken Beyer.  “There is only one high water ramp which is in Berry Bend.  But the boaters who used that ramp couldn’t get under the bridge.”
Sterett Creek Marina will be open until November 4.  The motel will be open through the month of November.
Osage Bluff Marina owner Jason Reynolds reported a good Labor Day weekend.  “It wasn’t the Fourth of July kind of busy but we were busy all weekend with all the slips and the motel full.”
According to Reynolds, most of the Truman Lake guests were families who were taking the last weekend of the summer to enjoy boating, tubing and swimming.
“All our guests seemed to really enjoy our twenty minute fireworks display on Saturday night,” said Reynolds.  “The fireworks went off perfectly and although it wasn’t as long as the 4th of July show, it was a hit.”
During the flooding of Truman this summer, Osage Bluff was never closed.  “The road to Osage Bluff was closed by the U.S. Corps of Engineers for 3 ½ weeks which made it impossible for visitors to get to us, however, we never officially closed.  Any boat that made it to the Marina would receive service.”
While many of the marinas had shuttle service to their slips, Osage Bluff just kept adding walk way so that their customers could walk to their boat slips.
While Reynolds admitted the Summer of ’19 was slow, he said he was sorry more people didn’t come down.
“The water is really beautiful right now,” Reynolds said.  “There is no dangerous drift wood and the fishing has been great.”
Reynolds even had t-shirts printed about the record breaking flood stating, “We’re keeping our heads above water”.
“This has been a tough year for marina owners as well as merchants in Warsaw,” said Reynolds.  “We dealt with tough years before and we’ll be here regardless.”
According to Reynolds there is a lot of good fishing season left and     Osage Bluff will be open until mid-November.
At Osage Mini Mart, Beth Drake reported a good weekend.  “Friday was rather slow because of the rain and football games, but overall it was a good weekend.  Sunday was our busiest day.”
Drake said that this summer has been a good one because the fishing has been good. “I know the flood made it hard on the marina owners but overall here in Warsaw it was a good summer,” Drake said.      
Osage Mini Mart sold 28,000 minnows over the weekend.
Tourism is a $11.4 billion industry for the Show-Me State, supports 281,255 jobs and provides $900 million in state and local taxes for communities each year according to Katie Danner, director of the Missouri Division of Tourism. In Benton County $13,789,041 was added to the economy last year.
 The Missouri slogan, “Don’t Take Less of a Vacation, Take a Vacation for Less”, applies to the Benton County area.  Many local merchants agreed that what draws people to this area is the lake and the fact that they can have a family vacation without breaking the bank.
Felecia Davis manager of Parkfield Inn reported a good weekend as well.  “We were full on Saturday and Sunday,” said Davis.     Davis reported that Parkfield Inn is close to being booked for Heritage Days in October.
Davis agreed that June was very slow and both Memorial Day and the 4th of July were disappointing because of the flooding but Labor Day was excellent.
“We have very loyal customers especially the people who love to fish,” said Davis.
Lake’s Inn had a few empty rooms this weekend but overall reported a good weekend.  “We were booked but we had 17 cancellations when the rain started,” said manager Aman Pannu.  “Saturday was our best night with all the rooms full.”
Lake’s Inn has recently had a complete renovation.   The staff is looking forward to Heritage Days.
“We can’t complain,” said Pannu. “Fishing has been good so we have had a decent summer regardless of the flooding.”
Heritage Days, which will be held October 19 and 20, should be the next big weekend for the Twin-Lakes area.