Tahlequah Daily Press

August 27, 2013

Area gears up for holiday weekend

By TEDDYE SNELL
Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — tsnell@tahlequahdailypress.com

Visitors to Northeast Oklahoma will be descending upon the lakes and Illinois River Labor Day weekend, getting in a final summer hurrah before fall.

Add to that the projected 100,000 guests expected for the Cherokee National Holiday, and Tahlequah and Cherokee County will be a veritable hot spot of entertainment.

According to Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission Administrator Ed Fite, the Illinois River should be in excellent condition for floating.

“I think it’s going to be a good weekend,” said Fite. “We’re running at 5.6 feet at the Tahlequah gauge, which is about 2-1/2 times faster than normal.”

Fite said the college football schedule may have an impact on the number of visitors.

“The University of Oklahoma has a game on Saturday. The river won’t be as busy as it was Memorial Day weekend, but if folks want to have a last hurrah before football season, this weekend would be ideal,” he said.

Fite recommends contacting area float operators and hotels before Friday to check availability for accommodations.

Archie Peyton, owner of Peyton’s Place, expects he’ll have ample equipment to meet demand.

“It’s going to be a so-so weekend,” said Peyton. “The river’s going to be in good shape. It may run a foot below normal on our end. People need to remember it’s still hot, so bring sunscreen.”

Peyton still has plenty of room for visitors.

“I doubt we’ll fill up this weekend,” said Peyton. “Reservations help us serve our people better, but they’re not required.”

On the opposite end of the county, water recreationists will also flock to Lake Tenkiller. An official representative was unavailable for comment, but the state park’s website offered a font of information.

Tenkiller State Park spans 1,190 acres, granting access to Tenkiller Lake, which encompasses 12,650 lake acres. Visitors have a number of choices when it comes to staying the night, as camp sites and cabins are offered.

The park is also home to a nature center with a naturalist on staff, a community building, a swimming pool with slide and log roll, two swim beaches, a marina, picnic shelters and playground. Visitors to Lake Tenkiller can take part in boating, fishing, water skiing, tubing and scuba diving.

Those who choose to visit the city of Tahlequah are in for a treat, too, as activities for the 61st annual Cherokee National Holiday will be taking place all weekend from the W.W. Keeler Complex on the south end of town, to Northeastern State University on the north end.

Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce Tourism Director Kate Kelly said Labor Day weekend is the perfect time to visit Tahlequah, as it provides a keyhole view to the city’s diverse and rich history.

“We are thrilled to have so many visitors in town this weekend,” said Kelly. “It is an incredible boost for the city’s growing tourism profile, as well as the local economy. We hope, for first-time visitors, the experience will help them make the decision to return..”