2018-07-19 / Front Page

Lakeshore hits June jackpot

Back on course for record
By Jen Murphy
of the Enterprise staff

Four out of five ain’t bad.

That’s the number of years Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore has counted more visitors than the previous year.

And this year may turn out to be the strongest yet after a record-setting June monthly attendance of 270,548.

Deputy superintendent Tom Ulrich believes 2018 just may become a record year for the Lakeshore thanks largely to last month’s 4.5 percent finish above the previous record set in 2016 for the month of June.

“We are just off the record pace of 2016 through June largely because we just set a new record with June of 2018,” he said. “It’s the biggest June we have ever had, so it made up for a little bit of a slower start with the cold April. Then we had a real big May and a record June. The figure of 270,548 is well above the previous record of 258,960 which was set in 2016 so this June brought us back on pace for a record year.”

Friends of Sleeping Bear board chair Kerry Kelly spends time on trails and working in the blacksmith shop at Glen Haven. He said the increase was notable in attendance at the lakeshore’s educational hubs.

“We don’t really see a significant difference from last year or the year before on the trails,” he said. “A lot of the activity is in the museums at Glen Haven.”

In fact, he said, the Cannery has hosted numbers between 600 and 700 visitors on some days.

How are those visitors handling their own prevalence? So far, said Kelly, they’re happy.

“Everyone is on vacation. Everyone is having a good time,” he said.

Places remain to escape the crowds, Kelly added.

“On the section from Glen Arbor to the Dune Climb there’s a fair amount of walking and bike traffic, but north of Glen Arbor you’ll see other people but it’s not going to feel busy,” Kelly said.

He added that almost any day, if you’re looking for less crowds, you can find a beach or a trail that is secluded, especially off Port Oneida Road.

Glen Arbor restaurant owner Bonnie Nescot said business continues to increase at Art’s Tavern as well.

“We are happy with that we can keep up,” she said. “We never thought we could push that many customers through. It started in 2012 with a double digit increase (in sales) and last year wasn’t a double-digit increase, but it was an increase. We are expecting the same for this year and that is phenomenal.”

Attitudes, however, have not always been as rosy, she added.

“June was June,” Nescot said. “It was on par, but attitudes and behaviors were not They are in a hurry and they are not nice… We don’t usually see that until August. So we do the best we can.”

She was quick to point out wonderful interactions as well. She said her husband and co-owner Tim Barr helped a non-English speaking couple plot their travels to Mackinac.

“They worked together and had a hand-signaled conversation,” Nescot said. “They communicated they enjoyed their meal and said how nice everybody had been to them.”

While the main street in Glen Arbor may be burgeoning with drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians, one side-street business could use a little more traffic.

Donna Burgan, owner of Wildflowers, said the number of visitors to the Lakeshore may be increasing, but the resulting heavy traffic has made people less apt to stop at her store.

“This town is put to its limits. There is no other way around,” Burgan said.

She expects business to an increase as crowds slow during the shoulder season in September and October.

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