BE Campground makes many changes
There have been quite a few changes this year at the Blue Earth City Campground, which is located at the city-owned Faribault County Fairgrounds.
Probably the biggest change is the campground has gone from nine full-service sites for travel trailers and motor homes and four tenting only sites to 14 full service sites.
Full service means they have a parking space for the trailer or motor home, plus hookups for city water, sewer and electricity.
“We took the area where the tenting areas were, and made them full service units,” Blue Earth Public Works and Parks Department supervisor Jamison Holland says. “We wanted to do it last fall, but we ran into difficulty with electrical and plumbing codes that had changed recently.”
So, the work was postponed to this past spring, and work began as soon as they could break ground.
“It was a little difficult to get the contractors schedules all coordinated,” Holland says. “For many of them it was fill in work between their other jobs.”
The goal was to get the work done and the new sites open by the Fourth of July, and they just made that deadline.
“They weren’t really perfect yet but it worked to have them open,” Holland explains. “We had all the hookups ready and the sod was laid.”
Holland says they just got the final inspection done from the state and the inspector was impressed with the result.
“I think they thought we could not fit five new sites in that area, but it actually worked out well,” Holland says. “The inspector complimented us on the result.”
Besides the new layout and additional sites, the campground now has a camp host who takes care of reservations and collecting the fees and answering campers questions.
“We knew we were losing revenue without a camp host,” Holland says. “We relied on the honor system and people paid sometimes and sometimes not. But this year our revenues are where they should be.”
The new camp host is Denise Karau, formerly of Rochester.
“I sold my house in Rochester and now live full time in my fifth-wheel camper,” Karau says. “When I heard about Blue Earth advertising for a camp host, I thought it would be perfect for me. In the winter I travel south.”
The camping rate was also raised to $25 per night this year. It had been at $20 per night for six years, Holland says.
“We knew we were too low and needed to raise it,” he says. “And now we have added free Wi-Fi so we really needed to up it to at least $25.”
Also new is a reservation system. The campground now has its own phone number, answered by the camp host. In the past it was answered at City Hall and reservations were just on a next day basis.
“Now Denise (Karau, the camp host), keeps all the reservations on a tablet and reservations can be made almost up to a year ahead, if need be,” Holland says. “Before we just took reservations for that same day and I ran out and put an orange cone in front of the site.”
Holland thinks the campground needs to expand even more.
“I would like to have a couple more sites towards the back of the fitness center,” he says. “They would be for larger rigs. Some of these real big motor homes are pulling vehicles behind them and they want a place site they can pull through. All of our sites have to be backed into.”
Holland notes that the campground has been completely full many weekends this year.
“Last weekend was the first time we had only a few campers,” he says. “I think it has to do with the COVID-19 and wearing masks and all that. I heard summer travel is now down about 21 percent. But, I expect it will pick up again soon.”
Camp host Karau says she has been quite surprised how busy the campground has been all summer.
“We have lots of people calling and making reservations by calling our new campground phone number,” she says. “But, besides travelers, we have also had quite a few local residents camping here, or else friends or relatives of local people. Sometimes they are here for a wedding or a funeral in the Blue Earth area.”