Salt River Journal

Mark Twain Lake businesses gear up for Labor Day Weekend

Mark Twain Lake businesses gear up for Labor Day W
A group of boaters take off from Black Jack Marina at Mark Twain Lake on Tuesday.
Mike Thomas/Courier-Post
By Hannibal Courier-Post
Posted: Aug. 13, 2020 8:59 am Updated: Aug. 13, 2020 9:05 am

PERRY, Mo. | Businesses at Mark Twain Lake have been going strong this summer as they prepare for a busy Labor Day weekend.

With people reluctant to take long vacations with the coronavirus pandemic going on, many visitors have been taking short trips and weekend stays at Mark Twain Lake this summer.

Black Jack Marina assistant manager Jim Taylor said business has never been better this summer.

“There's no baseball games to go to, no graduations, no weddings, no concerts and (nothing else) to do,” Taylor said. “Our competition has faded away and this is it.”

Black Jack Marina rents out pontoon boats, tritoon boats, jonboats, a bass boat and kayaks.

Taylor said Black Jack Marina's rental boats are usually booked each day of the week.

“Other than weather issues, it's a holiday weekend here every weekend,” Taylor said. “It's that busy and there's that many people coming. I would expect Labor Day weekend to be just that much busier than ever.”

Business has also been booming at Mark Twain Landing, where it's campground and cabins have been sold out every weekend since mid-April.

Mark Twain Landing manager Rebecca Watson said it has been busy all summer and campsites are already sold out for Labor Day weekend.

“There's always a family reunion somewhere here,” Watson said. “We have a banquet hall and a clubhouse that people use a lot when they're here for those. We have lots of family groups and lots of groups of friends from the community (that) all try to get together and have tents and cabins next to each other.”

Mark Twain Landing has close to 60 lodging units on its facility, which includes motels, lodges, cabins, bungalows and a house.

There are several entertainment options at Mark Twain Landing on weekends, such as outdoor movies, a water trolley, live music and a sundae bar on Sundays.

“Our swimming pool, mini-golf and game room have been open all summer,” Watson said. “We always have planned activities on the weekends for kids, it could be anything from tie dying t-shirts to slime. We have weekend music every other weekend and adult activities like golf cart bingo.”

The biggest outdoor activity on Mark Twain Lake this summer has been boating and fishing, with the lake seeing plenty of boat traffic.

“This is a great activity to do outdoors and your family stays together and don't have to mix with other people if you don't want to,” Taylor said. “We've seen an uptick of people from Illinois because they still have the two person per boat rule.”

With all of the visitors at Mark Twain Lake, the Rustic Oak Cabin Steakhouse has been a popular destination for those who are hungry for a good meal.

Rustic Oak Cabin Steakhouse owner Melissa Hamilton-Ek said business has been fine at her lake store after it opened back up in mid-May, and it has outpaced the Hannibal location.

“I assume we will get busier (on Labor Day weekend at the lake restaurant),” Hamilton-Ek said. “I'm sure we'll get business from the lake with the schools opening (soon), it will be everyone's last hurrah.”

The Rustic Oak Cabin Steakhouse uses upper 2/3 choice aged angus and hereford meat for its steaks and burgers. Each one of their meals are handmade.

The weekends have been the busiest time for the Rustic Oak Cabin Steakhouse's lake location.

“I think that business has been fine, about average to above average,” Hamilton-Ek said. “I think a lot of people are taking shorter trips to get away, especially a lot of people from St. Louis, Springfield and Kansas City.”

Taylor said he has noticed the same thing at Black Jack Marina, with many visitors coming from around the state.

“People are canceling (long) vacations and either coming to the lake short term or for a week,” Taylor said. “Our rental boats are out everyday and sometimes twice a day. It's never been this busy during the week.”

The weekdays have also been busy at Mark Twain Landing, although not to the level the weekends are.

“The water park changed their hours to were they are only open on weekends because their lifeguards are mostly college students,” Watson said. “They don't have quite as many weekday campers, but a lot of people come who want to get away during the crowds on the weekends.”

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