Rain Hampering Business On The Illinois River

Friday, June 29th 2007, 7:51 pm
By: News On 6

It's a weekend washout on the Illinois River. Phones have been ringing off the hook at canoe rental businesses with people canceling their reservations. But people floating the Illinois told The News On 6’s Joshua Brakhage the conditions couldn't be better. He reports the water is clear and lazy, the perfect combination for a weekend on the river.

An empty river, empty picnic tables, even empty trash cans are all you can find at the Illinois River. It was the perfect conditions for parents Jeff and Sherri Smith, who come up from Oklahoma City to take 5-year-old Summer for her first float.

"It was great. We were the only ones out there on the river,” Oklahoma City resident Jeff Smith said. “The river is nice relaxing, enjoyed the nature, the wildlife, stuff like that."

"We didn't have to worry about crazy people getting out of hand. It was perfect for her first experience," Smith’s wife Sherri Smith said.

It's not perfect for business. In fact the Smith's were only one of a dozen families floating at all on Friday. Cheryl Beaman says on any other weekend 600 people would be floating, this weekend she expects a third of that.

"Unfortunately, people just assume that the river's flooding and it's at three-and-a-half feet, which is perfect,” Cheryle Beaman of Falcon Floats said. “In fact, it's just a couple inches below our year-round normal, and they could be taking advantage of some of the best water of the season, and some of the best weather conditions of the season. Unfortunately, they assume that since the rest of the state's gotten so much rain we have as well."

Storms stayed away from this part of Green Country, but rumors of a beer ban may have shut off the flow of floaters as well.

"They're still allowing 3.2 beer in cans only, no glass containers, no styrofoam, so nothing has changed in that area," said Beaman.

Visitors like the Smith's help, but Beaman says revenues are down 50% for the year. She hopes the blue skies mean a sunny forecast for the rest of the summer.

If people reschedule for later this summer, July and August may fill up fast. Business owners say if you're coming out to the Illinois, make your reservations now.

Watch the video: River Goers Canceling Trips To The Illinois