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Friday, May 6, 2016

Recreation along Spring

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Jintala Wood and Carlos Dent sharpen their canoe skills at Many Islands Campground on the Spring River. Photo by Jan Thompson
SPRING RIVER -- Some of the camp sites and canoe rentals along the Spring River reported a good Memorial Day weekend while others did not have such a good turnout.

Bob Wood, owner and manager of Many Islands, said his business was down a little bit Memorial weekend. "I won't complain though," he said. Wood said high fuel prices and the weather were his main concerns. He said he would have to wait until July to see exactly how the cost of gas was going to affect his business.

"We did nothing in April because of flooding and the river was up. I would say our business was down probably 15 percent from previous years this holiday weekend. It was a pretty decent weekend," Wood said.

He said all of the lakes in the area, Greers Ferry, Bull Shoals and Norfork were flooded and that probably helped the traffic along the Spring River.

"Fuel prices are hurting people. We get a big percentage of our campers out of the Memphis area. Some people told us that they would usually go to the Gulf Coast but because of higher gas prices they are staying closer to home," he said.

Susan Chaffin, owner of Riverside Resort, also on the Spring River, said their capacity of campers was about the same but the rainy weather did keep campers from floating the river.

"Everyone wanted to get out on the water. A lot of people did get out on the river Saturday morning and then the rain came," she said.

She said she didn't think the cost of fuel hurt her business.

"We have seen a slow down in the purchase of knick knacks and such as that," she said.

Chaffin said a large portion of their campers come from Memphis and Little Rock.

Jeanette Frey, an employee at Spring River Oaks said they had a very busy weekend with all of their 130 camp sites full.

She said she could tell no difference in the spending in the store than in years past.

"I do think a lot of people are vacationing closer to home. We get a lot of people from Jonesboro and Memphis come to River Oaks to camp and float the river," she said.

She said camping is a pretty reasonable vacation or weekend. "It's cheap recreation. Most people would have to buy a week's worth of groceries anyway, so they might as well buy them and go camping," Frey said. She said a few of the campers did leave a little early because of the rain.

Saddler Falls owner Henry Jewell was not happy with his holiday weekend.

"Our canoe rental was down by probably half," he said. Jewell said he suspected this was due to fuel cost and rain.

"A lot of people watch the weather channel and it may say it's raining here when the sun is shining," he said.

"Our business was probably hit harder this spring by the floods than any other camp site or canoe rental in the area. We had a lot of flooding at the camp sites," he said. Saddler Falls has 50 camp sites and four of them were completely destroyed by spring floods. Jewell said he will build the camp sites back.

"It's not just gas prices that are hurting us. It's groceries and everything is rising in cost," he said.

Jewell said the majority of his campers are from out of Memphis where people have good jobs.

An employee at Saddler Falls said over the holiday weekend they had a family with three children from West Plains come for the weekend and they told him they were camping closer to home because of gas prices.

"Memorial weekend is our biggest time of the year. Normally, the parking lot between us and Spring River Oaks is full of campers who have been turned away because all the camp sites were full. This year the parking lot was empty," he said.

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