Minnesota Resort Owners See Slice of America
From $70 tents to $1.5 million RVs, the Poss family has seen it all at their RV park on the edge of Woodbury, a suburb of St. Paul, Minn.
Arrivals of sheep and ducks on their way to the Minnesota State Fair, an anticipated influx of RV-traveling delegates for September’s Republican National Convention and, on one occasion, a whole circus-ful of performers, have not fazed Susan and Rick Poss, or their daughter Amy, over the 18 seasons they have been operating St. Paul East RV Park, according to the Woodbury Bulletin.
The 80-site RV park and tent campground sees a variety of visitors each 90-day season.
It’s a visit by the Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus that stands out in the minds of Susan and Amy, however.
“We had everyone in here but the horses,” recalled Amy, who at first didn’t believe her mother when she told her she’d just taken a reservation from the circus. “We had the strongman and the dog guy, the clowns and the acrobats — everyone but the horse people.”
Amy and her mom recalled how the circus performers were forced to take taxis into downtown St. Paul for each of their performances as they had no other means of transportation, and the family discovered that many of the artists were former Olympians from eastern European countries who turned to the circus life after their Olympic careers ended.
Most visitors to the RV park aren’t quite so exotic; these days 75% of the park’s guests are from out of state, while the remaining 25% are local, although in the past, that ratio used to be 90:10.
Rick Poss puts the change down to increasing gas prices, and the ever-growing development in Woodbury, which has been taking place since the Posses moved in, in 1991.
The purchase of the RV park was the result of a long-held dream by Susan to own her own business.
Although Rick was initially somewhat dubious about the idea, he soon came around, and now agrees it was a wonderful setting in which to raise the couple’s two children, Amy and Matt.
Right from the start, indeed, Amy and Matt learned to make the most of the opportunities offered by living on a campground, and earned extra money by selling firewood and beaded jewelry, and walking customers’ pets during the day.
Although for many, Woodbury may be the final destination on the trip, that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few customers who pass through on their way to or from a more distant point.
“We get lots of Easterners coming through on their way to Alaska,” said Rick. “They also caravan up and down the Mississippi, starting in New Orleans and then stay with us when they get up here.”
And, of course, this fall’s big pull will be the Republican National Convention. The Poss family is expecting to get more than a handful of bookings from delegates who don’t want to check in at the St. Paul Hotel or the Crowne Plaza.
“There will be a number of delegates who have RVs and, rather than staying in the motels downtown, they will want to bring their RV and stay here,” explained Rick.
“We are 10 minutes from downtown and so we are really the closest RV park to St. Paul.”
It all adds up to an idyllic lifestyle for the family, which heads to Florida when the season is over and the Minnesota winter begins to bite.
And although the land on which the RV park stands has been zoned for development as of now, Rick, Susan and Amy insist they’ll be here for at least a few years yet.
“We see the whole cross-section of America here,” said Rick, “and that’s what we like.”