If you traveled to an area lake to celebrate the murky Memorial Day weekend, chances are you had your pick of the choice spots for picnics, swimming and fishing.
But camping was another story.
Despite the weekend's cool and rainy weather, campsites at Clinton and Perry lakes were filled nearly to capacity, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials who manage the two federal reservoirs said today.
"It seemed like the weather was just bad enough to keep the picnickers away, but not bad enough to make the campers leave," said Dave Rhoades, the corps' park manager at Clinton.
"Last year we had quite a few campsites left. This year we were completely filled up," Rhoades said.
Frank Funk, the corps' project manager at Perry Lake, also reported more campers than usual for a Memorial Day weekend.
"THE CAMPING use was big, probably more than last year on Memorial Day weekend, but the day use was somewhat less," he said. "By day use, we mean all other other activities that are not camping, such as swimming, fishing, boating and picnicking."
Neither Rhoades nor Funk had calculated this morning an exact count of the number of people who visited the lakes from Friday through Monday.
However, Rhoades estimated that because of all of the campers, Clinton Lake's visitor-hours were up by about 10 percent over figures during the same time period in 1991.
"I don't know why we had an increase in the number of campers," Rhoades said. "It could be the economy. People may be taking shorter vacations and staying closer to home."
He said campers ran the gamut from those in mobile units to those with tents who stayed on about 1,000 camping spots in the corps' camp areas and in the state park's camp areas.
"OUR CAMPSITES, we were at 100 percent capacity all weekend," he said. "Last year we did not fill up. This is the second time since the lake was put in that the corps areas filled up."
Mary Butterbrodt, the office assistant at Clinton State Park, said campsites with electrical hookups filled up Friday afternoon.
"A lot of campers came in earlier this year to make sure they had a space," Butterbrodt said. "By Saturday morning all of the corps electrical sites at Bloomington (on the lake's south shore) were filled. The cool weather may have cut down on day use for picnicking, swimming and boating."
Mark Retonde, owner of Clinton Marina, which is on the north side of the lake in the state park, said his business was down considerably over the weekend, compared to a normal holiday.
"IT WAS OFF, but I don't know how much," Retonde said. "But we know that the weekend was down. That's to be expected when its rainy and chilly. ... I think more than anything else, people were complaining about it being cold. I saw more sweatshirts this weekend than I saw in the fall."
But Retonde said his experience has been that if Memorial Day weekend is cold and wet, people generally come out the following weekend.