By Jefferson Tyler, Multimedia Journalist
OTTUMWA, IA (KYOU) – Ragbrai, the Babe Ruth World Series, Balloon Races, it’s a banner year for events in Ottumwa. Hotels and motels reaping the rewards of a bustling tourism year. But they aren’t the only ones. KYOU FOX News reporter Jefferson Tyler shows you a forgotten industry offering a cheap place to stay and a break for your taxpayer dollars.
The campgrounds at Ottumwa Park are overflowing. They’ve been that way all summer long.
“We’ve already set a new record for attendance and revenue at our campground. We’re up to about 145-thousand dollars so far. And the previous record was 142-thousand dollars in 2014,” said Parks Director Gene Rathje.
Record setting numbers, and there’s still one month left to go in the season. The big winner of this year’s numbers? …the tax payer. Money that pays for Ottumwa’s campground and parks normally comes from the city’s budget. Unless the parks department makes a profit.
“We need every penny of that to subsidize. The entire parks department.”
Warm weather big name events like Ragbrai have brought visitors flocking into the campground by the lake in Ottumwa Park. But there’s been other factors as well.
“What’s going to put us over the top are the pipeline workers. They’ve been fantastic guests at our campground.”
Laborers on the Baaken Pipeline are finding the $10 camping fee, and $17 RV fee, a cheap price to pay for a place to sleep. But even they might find themselves battling for a spot this weekend, as the town gears up, for Octoberfest.
“Probably by Saturday the campground is going to be full, and it’s going to be full for another 10 days,” meaning a much bigger profit than they ever expected.
“By the end of the year, we expect to be more than 200-thousand dollars in revenue.”
The director of Ottumwa Parks and Recreation told us,despite the high numbers, they do have some spots still open at the campground. So you might want to rush over there and see if you can stake a spot for when Octoberfest comes to town.
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