Lake-goers and visitors alike crowded Lake Texoma for one last taste of summer Saturday for the three-day Labor Day weekend. For businesses along the lake, the September holiday serves as the final of the “big three” holiday weekends that make up the summer season.
Despite predictions of rain and poor weather throughout the weekend, marinas along the lakeside reported strong crowds and business Saturday.
“We have a full house this weekend,” Courtney Garvin, communications manager for Lighthouse Resort and Marina, said. “All of our boats have been completely rented. All of our cabins have been rented. Even our RV side is completely full.”
Garvin said crowds started arriving Friday night. Garvin, who also works with a charter boat service, said she saw crowds of families and children touring the lake as late as 10 p.m. Friday. Despite the strong start, Garvin said the crowds really don’t start rolling in until Saturday.
Garvin said the traffic typically will remain strong through Sunday but will start to taper off on Monday as crowds prepare to return home from the long weekend.
Overall, Garvin said this summer season was one of the strongest in several years. This comes three years after major flooding from record-breaking rains in the spring and early summer inundated many lake-side areas and damaged many of the marinas along the lake. At the time, some marina owners referred to 2015 as “the lost season” due to the catastrophic effect the flooding had on the area tourism business.
“We still have people asking if it’s recovered from the flooding,” Garvin said. “I think word of mouth is still going out there that the lake is open for business.”
Despite the reputation of Labor Day being the end of the season, Garvin said the traffic at the marina stays strong into the fall months as temperatures begin to fall. However, the traffic is mostly made of locals and the marina sees fewer tourists, she said.
Similarly to the commercial marinas, officials with Eisenhower State Park also reported heavy traffic going into the holiday weekend. While the park had a few campsites available early Saturday morning, they quickly filled by mid-afternoon, Park Superintendent Matt Harwood said.
“Like most years, we follow a trend and this is really the last big hurrah for the year for us,” he said.
Harwood, who has worked at the park for two years, said this is the busiest year he has seen, with anecdotes of it being strongest in many years. Harwood said he doesn’t believe this is isolated to Texoma as many state parks have reported strong or record-breaking crowds this season.
Among those who visited the lake this weekend was Bart Saylors, who owns a weekend house near the lake but lives in Carrollton. Saylors said he has visited Lake Texoma for more than 30 years as he prefers it and its sandy beaches to the lakes closer to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.
Saylors said he planned to spend Saturday on the lake before returning to the weekend house for cooking and time with visiting friends on Sunday. The possibility of rain did affect Saylors’ plans for Monday, which he said he would prefer to spend out on the water.
With regard to the weekend being the unofficial end of the season, Saylors said he agrees, but said it can vary from year to year.
“Last year, we made it to October, but over the last few years it really was the last hurrah,” he said.
Jeremiah Braudrick said it was the extended weekend and the last gasp of summer that led him to go out to the lake on Saturday. While he regularly visits his home in Kingston, Oklahoma, he only got the chance to spend two or three weekends on the lake this year.
“(This) is the last chance to get away before we start a new semester,” he said, referring to his work with a community center.
Braudrick said he planned to spend the weekend on the lake boating and tubing. However, Saturday morning, he said he wanted to spend some time at Highport Marina’s restaurant, where he hoped to catch a football game.