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Welcome back campers!: Memorial Day weekend unofficial start to summer camping season

Source: Ottumwa Courier
Publish Date: Friday, May 23, 2008
Summary: When people think of Memorial Day weekend, they often think barbecues, campfires and fishing at the lake -- at least that's what officials at area parks and campgrounds are hoping.

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By Scott Niles

May 23, 2008 (McClatchy-Tribune Regional News delivered by Newstex) -- OTTUMWA -- When people think of Memorial Day weekend, they often think barbecues, campfires and fishing at the lake -- at least that's what officials at area parks and campgrounds are hoping.

Lacey-Keosauqua State Park Manager Justin Pedretti said Memorial Day weekend is usually the busiest time of the year for the park.

Lake Darling Park Aide Sabrina Greiner said for most parks the three busiest weekends are Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day.

Several area parks already have a large number of reservations and expect more requests today.

"Most of our reservations we took are coming in [today]," said Lake Wapello Park Manager Ron Moore Thursday.

"We have a lot of people who made reservations ahead of time," Pedretti said, adding they have about 10-15 of their first-come, first-served electrical sites left.

"We have people here already [who] wanted to make sure they had a spot to camp," he said.

Iowa Falls resident Jeremy Norem and his wife, Trena, and their two sons, traveled to Lake Wapello for the weekend, making sure they had a place to stay.

"We have been coming to Lake Wapello on Memorial Day for a number of years now," Norem said.

His wife said it is a family trip.

"We camp all summer, but this is one place we come every year," she said.

While the Norem family is "roughing" it in a pop-up camper, other campers are not. Pedretti said the park has six cabins for rent; as of Thursday only two had been rented. Usually people have to rent them for a whole week, but Memorial Day weekend is an exception to the rule.

"This weekend only if they want to rent them they can, but it has to be for a three-day period," he said.

Pedretti said two years ago they had a record number of campers with 91 out of 114 campsites taken.

"We are usually around 75 percent full, but that is just off the top of my head," he said. "Half of our campsites would be 60 and we usually have 70 sites taken or more."

Moore said they have two reservable electric sites left out of about 21, but with the non-electrical, there are about 15 available.

Fifty percent of their sites are also first-come, first-served.

"We expect most of those to fill up [today]. Right now 10 of those sites filled up already and the people are here now. And most of the rest will be filled up [today]," Moore said.

Greiner said they have 116 campsites at Lake Darling; of those, 73 electrical sites had been accounted for and eight full-hookup sites taken by Thursday.

"Most of the people will be coming in [today], but we have a few here already," she said. "And most of them stay through Monday."

Greiner said fishing will be a popular activity this weekend.

Unfortunately, Lake Wapello campers will not have as many fishing opportunities compared to other parks.

Lake Wapello is currently draining its lake to fix a leak in the dam. Moore said visitors can still fish from the shore or a non-motorized boat.

Scott Niles can be reached at (641) 683-5360 or via e-mail at

Newstex ID: KRTB-0395-25496438

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