Canoe rentals say the pandemic is leading more families and first-time floaters to flock to local rivers this summer

Local outfitters say business is booming during the Labor Day weekend
Published: Sep. 6, 2020 at 9:21 PM CDT
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OREGON COUNTY, Mo. (KY3) - This pandemic has brought scores of travelers to the Ozarks to enjoy the great outdoors. One local canoe outfitter says they are seeing tons of new faces and first-time floaters.

“It’s a great river. Beautiful, lovely springs and deep water plus blue water bluffs. We saw a bald eagle and not too crowded,” Cheryl Sikkema said.

Cheryl Sikkema and several floating enthusiasts with Paddle KC, a paddle group from Kansas City, came to float the Eleven Point River and camp for Labor Day.

“Our group has done this river for 10 or 11 years now. This is our first time doing it and it’s a great Labor Day Weekend trip because it’s not as crowded as the Current or Jacks Fork. It’s a little more remote and the water is a little more lively,” Sikkema told KY3.

Hufstedler’s Canoe Rental And campground couldn’t put floaters on the Eleven Point river until Memorial Day.

Since then business has been booming - especially with people escaping the big cities.

“A lot of families and multiple day trips,” Hufstedler’s owner Wendy Jones explained.

Sunday morning they had more than 100 people check in to float- making this one of the busiest labor day’s in recent years.

Water levels are ideal and allowing people to take longer float trips.

“We’re still floating the 26 miles up above Greer Springs,” Jones said.

Jones believes the pandemic helped people realize the area’s beauty and convenience, that will likely bring them back again and again.

“We’ll have some return people, Jones exclaimed. I think that will help. They didn’t know we were here. They didn’t realize it was that nice here and that it was such a nice area.”

Sikkema will be back, but she might not tell too many others outside Paddle KC.

“No. We’re going to keep it a closely-guarded secret.”

Floaters can float for the rest of September without making a reservation.

Beginning in October you must call to reserve a float trip.

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