Labor Day signals last hurrah for local campers

(ABC 6 News) – Labor Day is known for signaling the end of summer and many people were out this weekend trying to soak up some more sun before heading back to school or work.

Local campers hope that COVID case numbers will stay down so we can keep returning to normal even throughout the fall and winter.

"I think it’s better than what it was. I just think it’s been a good year," said Barb Philip, the owner of KOA campgrounds in Marion.

Philp’s family has run KOA for 32 years. This year she said numbers were 50 to 60 percent higher than during the pandemic.

"People need to get out. Why buy a 100,000 dollar camper and let it sit in your driveway?" she said.

She’s excited for the business and excited to see people exploring again.

"That’s what keeps us going. That’s what keeps us in business," Philip said.

She said that KOA is a great place for anyone to come vacation – vaccinated or unvaccinated and masked or unmasked.

"They’re just camping in their own little bubbles out there. If they have had their vaccines or have not, they’re in their own stuff," Philip said.

Camper Dan Franz and his wife bought a pop-up camper for the first time last year. Since then, they’ve visited a new state park each month.

"COVID has just kind of brought us to more camping – kind of discover Minnesota," Franz said.

Once it gets cold they’ll have to give up camping for a while.

"Kinda bummed. But we’re talking about next year already," Franz said.

He said that summer during this pandemic has been both challenging and rewarding.

"Kinda both ends of the spectrum. It’s been tough because of COVID and everything that’s been cancelled. But it’s been a blessing for us because we’ve discovered new things," he said.

Ironwood Springs Christian Ranch said that they had a strong summer as well. Their campers were really happy to be back. The owner said things feel like they’re getting back to normal.

They’re nervous about our area getting a spike in COVID cases with kids going back to school, but for now they’re still planning to be open through the fall. There are many fun activities for people of all ages.