'Memorial Weekend Do-Over' Fills Tahlequah Recreation Areas

Sunday, August 2nd 2015, 7:33 pm
By: News On 6

The heavy rain and flooding in May and June affected local tourism all over Green Country. Now, one local city decided to have a Memorial Day weekend "do over" to try and make up for lost time.

The Illinois River and Tenkiller Lake have seen better summers, but this weekend things are picking up.

“This is one of the best weekends we've had so far… ever,” David Spears said.

Spears co-owns and operates Arrowhead Resort on the Illinois River -- the second largest floating outfitter on the area.

He says Memorial Day do-over has been a success--floating just shy of 1,400 people Saturday alone.

Memorial Day and the month of June, however, are a very different story.

“You have about 100 days to make a living for 365, and unlike schools, you can't make up snow days; there's no makeup on high water days,” he said. “Once they're gone, they're gone."

The weather put businesses in a tight spot as weekend after weekend came up short.

“It puts you in the hole,” Spears said. “It's like a football team starting out 0 and 3 and we started out 0 and 3."

Melissa Harris with Tour Talequah put together the idea of a "do-over" after witnessing the effects the rain had on local businesses.

“Everything went under water, docks were not accessible,” Harris said. “They didn't have power; they didn't have water, and just a few restaurants just came open this weekend."

Both the river and lake are outside Tahlequah, but for tourism, Melissa say's it's all connected.

“A strong river tourism and a strong lake tourism feed a strong city tourism,” she said.

And it’s something Spears agrees with.

But just how hard will the lag in tourism hit?

David says right now it's hard to tell, but with the do-over success and a few more weekends ahead, he is optimistic.

“I'm just hoping,” he said. “You've got to keep a real positive attitude about everything and maybe an above-average amount of guests will show up on these weekends, and the rest of these weeks we've got throughout the year to kind of make up for the deficiency. Hey, you gotta just do the best you can."