Another Pulaski County summer is almost on the books.
In Lake Country, Memorial Day in May and Labor Day in September – the bank holiday weekend that is now ahead of us – conclude the summer tourist season. Of course, Pulaski County welcomes visitors all year round, but the Ohio Navy usually makes its trip to the friendly waters of Lake Cumberland during these warmer months, fueling the local economy – hotels, restaurants, and other businesses, and ultimately that Local citizens as beneficiaries.
“Labor Day is always one of our bigger weekends,” said Michelle Allen, general manager of Somerset-Pulaski County’s Convention and Visitors Office. “It’s the end of the summer season, so to speak. The kids are at school and football has started. People want to get out again. “
And although 2021 is another year with the most unusual challenges, the local tourism authorities are happy with the way things have gone – and are looking forward to a great holiday weekend at the end of the season.
“All season long, we’ve had contact with people who don’t normally come to the lake,” said Burnside Tourism Director Frank Crabtree, Jr. He writes that outdoor activities, such as are abundant in the area, are a popular option in the age of the coronavirus. “People get off more comfortably, even if things are more uncertain at the time. You can stay with your family, stay with your group. Most of the activities here take place outside and are socially distant. “
With reasonable temperatures, highs only hitting the low 80s, and sunny skies more or less expected during the long weekend, Labor Day seems like another opportunity for major tourism in Pulaski County.
“It’s still looking good, like it has been all summer,” said Allen. “We were really lucky with the weather, like at Somernites Cruise and the Lake Cumberland Air Show this (past) weekend.
“It will be nice again,” she added. “What really helped this season is that we had hotter, sunnier weather and the lake feels fabulous right now.”
Burnside is hosting Thunder Over the Island today and Saturday as a real Labor Day event, but being “the only town on Lake Cumberland” those who don’t come to the festival will still be around to see the lake, General Burnside Island State Park and other area attractions.
“The weather looks great; the hurricane cleared up early, ”said Crabtree, referring to the impact of Hurricane Ida here in Kentucky. “There is a lot of buzz in the community about the upcoming Labor Day celebrations. It seems like everyone is in a good mood for our community and proud to make this possible. It will be nice to go out and have a good time and have a certain feeling of normalcy, and it will be safe to do so without causing a major increase in the (COVID) numbers. “
Everyone agreed that COVID concerns “1,000 percent” contributed to bringing people to a tourist destination like Pulaski with dispersed outdoor activities. In fact, 54 percent of the people who come to the Lake Cumberland area do outdoor activities – boating, camping, hiking, places like Pulaski County Park, even the outdoor festivals.
“If you name it, we pretty much have it,” said Allen.
Allen noted that while Labor Day can be seen as the end of the summer season, it doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the fun times for the year. The area will have fine weather until October, she said – not just to “run on the water at the last minute, but also when we have the Moonlight Festival and Somernites Cruise” again this year for their final show of the season there will be a lot to see and do on site for the next two months.
She also mentioned that the Lake Cumberland Poker Run – “usually the biggest year-round event on Lake Cumberland” – will take place again the weekend after Labor Day at the State Dock Marina in Russell County.
“If the weather is nice, we hope that October is closer to the end of the season than September,” she said.
The figures on the region’s economic development for this tourist season are not yet available, but things are looking good. Crabtree says he looks at companies to see how they’ve done, and “Our restaurants are doing very well considering they have a hard time getting people to work in this business atmosphere. They do their best with the cards they are given in this scenario, but (a major staff shortage) our area has not hit like other tourist cities. “
Allen was even more optimistic. “I have a feeling that it will compare to 2019, when we had a banner year. It was our biggest year in terms of economic tourism numbers, ”she said. “We were in the 80th percentile for occupancy (in hotels and accommodations), and short-term rentals (like Airbnbs) were also busy.”
Those promoting their communities may have to look for the silver lining in every possible way, but the results suggest that Pulaski County and the Lake Cumberland area continue to find ways to thrive and grow their reputation even in the strangest of circumstances increase.
“We let several people come to the (tourism) office who have already been here and are looking for information for the next time they come back. We haven’t had a single visitor complaining about anything they went through here in Pulaski County, ”Allen said. “We had several new visitors last year because of the pandemic. I have the feeling that these visitors experienced great hospitality and felt so safe that they came back this year. “