Despite unfulfilled rain forecasts, Memorial Day weekend a success

by Donald Brickner, staff writer

Rain, rain go away, come again, well - after Labor Day.

That's the consensus standing hope among Canyon Lake business owners this summer who, for the most part, said they did quite well over the Memorial Day weekend.

And they did so despite San Antonio television weather forecasts that predicted rain all three days ... and which were, gratefully, largely in error.

It did rain in Canyon Lake early Saturday morning - but that was pretty much it, impact-wise.

"Our sales (at Papa Dock's) were down about 30 percent for the weekend compared to last year," said Cheryl Hayton, owner of Papa Dock's restaurant at Canyon Lake Marina and the Garden Gate Cafe in Sattler. "I'd attribute that to the San Antonio TV weather forecasters who predicted wave after wave of storms, but in the end it turned out to be beautiful here."

Hayton believes her and most business owners around the lake are highly optimistic for the summer - and with good reason.

"The buzz is, everybody feels like it's going to be a real good summer," she said. "Garden Gate did real well. Sales are good, lots of people are coming out to the camp grounds. Sometimes the bad weather helps."

The general feeling among most owners is that short of heavy rains washing out this summer's lake and river recreational activities - or some other unforseen regional or national disaster interceding - nothing seems likely to saboutage this year from being a major across-the-boards success.

"We had a 50 percent drop," said Sylvan DeJardo, owner of Fisherman's Corner on FM 306 on the north side of Canyon Lake. "Based on 10 years of operation, if the weatherman says it's going to rain, 50 percent of the people who were going to come to fish won't come.

"But it will be a good summer so long as it doesn't flood," DeJardo added. "This time last year much of the lake was flooded. Parks closed down on the river. If it stays as it is now, though, we should have a pretty good year - so long as nothing is going on in the world that's bad."

Pete Proctor, owner of Anchor's Landing Family Restaurant at 10018 Startz Road (corner of 3159 and Startz Road) in Startzville, experienced no increase in Memorial Day traffic at all - but, then, that was due to having experienced a setback in his advertising efforts.

"Memorial Day weekend didn't do a thing for my business," Proctor said. "Our lunches were nonexistent - but dinners went up a little. I think you had locals who hung low for that weekend.

"We weren't prepared for it (the weekend)," Proctor said. "We didn't have our signs up in time." Still, his street signs are up now, and Proctor is optimistic for a successful summer.

"The Startz Road traffic from San Antonio was busy - 300 boats a days passed by the restaurant," said Proctor. "Monday (Memorial Day) was unbelievable. About 1,000 boats - nice boats - passed by."

For almost everyone else interviewed, though, Memorial Day weekend was a singular success. And bookings - regardless what the venue - are already locked in through June, most business owners said, with many already filled through Labor Day.

Eileen and Larry Campbell own the Lodge at Turkey Cove, 2386 Colleen Drive, Canyon Lake. Both are officers in the Canyon Lake Lodging Association: Larry is the president, and Eileen the treasurer.

"I was out of town for the weekend," Eileen said, "but according to my husband, the Memorial Day weekend went very well. I believe everyone in the Lodging Assocation did well. We have very good reservations for the summer. July Fourth and Labor Day are pretty much full."

"It was a great weekend - much better than last year," said Connie Keim, store assistant at Canyon Bait House, 15605 Cranes Mill Road on the south side of the lake. "There were a lot of out-of-towners from Houston and Dallas. I worked a lot of hours, and we were busy. I think it's going to be a good summer."

Lewis Thrasher, manger of the Super S food market, 8010 FM 2673, Startzville, agreed, saying both his store and the Super S in Sattler did extremely well.

"Both stores went through an incredible - at least 7 percent - increase," Thrasher said. "We had a tent sale, too, and had a good time. We needed a practice run on outside sales to get ready before we go full-blown for the Fourth of July.

"We were apprehensive last year because it flooded the year before," Thrasher said. "It rained on Memorial Day last year, too, and it was forecast for rain this year. Our business depends on the summer, and we're all hoping for good weather. It looks like we're going to do well."

Iva Collins, manager of the Maricopa Riverside Lodge, FM 306 at the Guadalupe River, said very little would adversely affect their lodging business. "We're always packed," she said. "Weather forecasts didn't hurt us a bit. It's looking excellent for the summer. We're booking up very good."

River outfitteers experienced robust sales, too. Mark Johnson, reservationist and office assistant at Rio Raft Co., 14130 River Road in Sattler, said most of their weekends were booked back on January 3 - when Memorial Day alone was completely booked in two hours.

"Memorial Day was outstanding this year. The weather worked out perfectly," said Johnson. "I was here last year, and we were probably just as busy. The holiday went smoothly. It rained at night, in mornings it was clear, and we were able to put people out on the river."

Capt. Gill Aldridge of Canyon Lake Cruises, 1281 Highland Terrace Drive, Canyon Lake, said he had a boat in for minor repairs, and so his business was closed. He "sat in a boatyard over Memorial Day weekend" - which was his first, as Canyon Lake Cruises didn't open until June 6 of last year.

"I did have a dozen people call for trips, though," Aldridge said, adding that he's "bullish" for summer success. "I've already had 3700 hits on my website," he explained.

Sherry Rohde, office manager for Water Craft Rentals at Canyon Lake Marina, said the forecasts of rain didn't deter rental boaters at all on Memorial Day weekend.

"It rained Saturday morning, but from 11 a.m. on Saturday, through Sunday and Monday, we pretty much rented anything that would float. We also saw a lot of people in for repairs," Rohde said.

"We've taken reservations through portions of August and Labor Day," she said. "As long as we don't get any bad rains, we're seeing lots of traffic - from Houston, Dallas, Florida and California. They're coming in and buying property, or they're staying here."

She laughed. "People come in and say Canyon Lake is one of the prettiest lakes in the state - everyone's pretty surprised," Rohde said.

"It's almost like Canyon Lake has been found."

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