Despite early concerns of gas shortages ahead of the Labor Day holiday, local marinas and attractions along Lake Texoma reported record crowds over the three-day weekend. The September holiday is one of the “big three” weekends for the Lake Texoma tourism industry.
“You can never guess with Labor Day,” Christie Bliss, vice president of operations for Highport Marina, said Monday. “School has already started, sports have already started and people aren’t as anxious to get out on the lake. However, this weekend has been very good.”
Bliss said about two-thirds of the marina’s 800 boat slips and all rentals in use over the three-day weekend. She added that Saturday and Sunday were particularly busy, with more than 2,000 visitors at the marina.
For lake attractions, the summer season means big money and makes up a large part of their income. The three summer holidays — Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day — combined represent about 30 percent of Highport’s annual revenue, Bliss said. Of the three, the Fourth of July typically is the busiest followed by Memorial Day and finally Labor Day.
Bliss said this year’s holiday traffic was better than 2016, but not quite on pace with 2014. For many businesses along the lake, 2015 is considered the “lost summer” due to the early spring storms and record flooding along the lake. Highport and other marinas suffered flood damage as Lake Texoma went over the spillway twice during the single season.
Bliss attributed the strong business over the weekend to good weather with no rain in the forecast, and temperatures in the high 80s and low 90s.
Initially, Bliss said there were some concerns over possible fuel shortages following the wake of Hurricane Harvey and the closure of coastal oil refineries last week. However, this did not hinder the crowds, and the marina was able to get restocked on fuel throughout the weekend.
“There was a lot of panic about fuel ahead of the weekend, … but we have not had that (shortages) happen,” she said.
Among those visiting Highport for the weekend was Kristen Leinen and her family, of Dallas. Leinen said the holiday weekend gave her a chance to relax and unwind with family and friends.
Leinen said she was worried about fuel shortages, especially in Dallas where they were more widespread, but her concerns were eventually abated.
“In Dallas, there was a run on fuel, but it only lasted about 48 hours,” she said.
Leinen said she has been going to the lake about once every other weekend since she purchased land up near the lake. Leinen said she is looking forward to her first autumn at the lake.
While the fall typically is slower for the marinas, officials with Eisenhower State Park said the fall season is typically one of its busier times of the year. However, the Labor Day weekend proved to be busy for the state park.
Assistant Park Superintendent Richard Kellogg said all of the camping sites at the park were full throughout the weekend with more than 3,400 visitors despite it typically being the slowest of the three holidays.
“Everybody has the entire summer to go camping, so they usually get it out of their system by now,” he said.
Kellogg attributed the traffic to the weather, noting that unlike the typical late summer holiday it wasn’t overly hot.
“Most of this has to do with Mother Nature,” he said. “We’ve been blessed with no rain and no temperatures in the 100s.”
Kellogg said he expected the fall rush to start later this month as temperatures begin to drop. The rush will continue, with the park expected to be full each weekend, through the Thanksgiving holiday, he said.