Barton Lake Jellystone Park on Steady Growth Pattern
An Indiana campground has more important things to focus on than the recession – like preparing for a full park during three weekends of Halloween festivities. In spite of these economic times, Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resort at Barton Lake, Fremont, Ind., has continued to grow at a rate of 5% to 10% a year.
Named the 2010 Facility of the Year by Leisure Systems Inc., franchisor of the Yogi Bear Jellystone Park Camp-Resorts, the pet-friendly resort at Barton Lake credits success to its investment in facilities, a friendly staff, a clean facility and a calendar filled with fun events to draw campers.
With autumn around the corner, that means Halloween, and Yogi Bear in Fremont does it big with three weekends of fun at the park.
“We are pretty much full all three of those weekends,” said Cheri Lehnertz, reservation/marketing manager for the campground, located 2 ½ hours east of Chicago along I-80-90. “We used to have just one Halloween weekend, but the need has grown.”
Festivities kick off Sept. 23-25 with “Spooks and Spirits” with trick-or-treating throughout the park, ceramics, cartoons, wagon rides, bingo and best decorated site awards, as well as an afternoon dance and caramel apple making session. A Sept. 30-Oct. 2 “Witching Weekend” includes a costume parade with judging, trick-or-treating, pumpkin judging, best decorated site awards, ceramics, wagon rides, cartoons and bingo. The “Monster Bash” Oct. 7-9 weekend means a Monster Ball with Yogi Bear and friends, trick-or-treating, ceramics, cartoons, wagon rides, bingo, best-decorated site and more.
In 1965 the campground opened with 50 sites with electric. Campers had to go to a pump for water. It cost $2.50 to rent a site with electric for one night. Fifteen years later, in 1980, the park joined the Yogi Bear franchise. The success has been ten-fold.
“We have been successful by joining the Yogi system and continually upgrading and adding sites, cottages, and amenities as well as Yogi events and recreation programs,” said Roger Barry, founder. “It is because of these things and treating our guests right.”
Today the park is complete with 540 full hook-up sites, 18 cabins, 18 cottages, five playgrounds, two outdoor pools, one indoor pool, mini-golf, a splash playground and three water slides.
Yogi Bear at Barton Lake considers itself fortunate to have been unaffected thus far by the recession. “The gas prices have not hurt us and the recession has not affected us,” said Julie (Barry) Corcimiglia, Roger’s daughter and part-owner along with husband, Tim. “We get better and better. It is an affordable spot, whether people come for a day or stay for a week.”
“It’s like we have job security,” she added. “Other parks look to us and Roger has been instrumental in other parks coming into the system.”
The staff at Yogi Bear enjoys seeing both familiar faces and new ones each season, which runs mid-April through mid-October. The recession, perhaps, has even benefited Yogi Bear as many Midwesterners are staying closer to home.
“We are starting to pull from different markets like the Chicago and Cleveland area,” Corcimiglia noted. “Michigan and Ohio have been our biggest group of people coming in. It’s typical for us to pull from a 3-hour radius, but people are traveling farther than three hours now. We have more from the Fort Wayne and Indianapolis area visiting, too.”
“Continuing to reinvest in the facility is important,” she said. “Every year we are trying to add something new. That is one thing our campers say, every year there is something new.”
In keeping with the times, Yogi Bear at Barton Lake hired a social media director, Gina Hole. “It’s a full-time job for us,” Lehnertz said. “We are very interactive with our campers every day. It is amazing the following we have, and it has brought new people to our campground.”
The park started its Facebook page in January 2010 and has 4,883 fans. The park also offers a mobile site, jellystonesbest.mobi. – Leanne Phillips
Details on Jellystone’s Fremont, Ind., Park
Owners: Roger and Anna Barry, Tim and Jodi Corcimiglia, Dave and Julia Barry and Andy Barry
Contacts: 140 Lane 201 – Barton Lake, Fremont, IN 46737; (800) 375-6063; www.jellystonesbest.com
Accommodations: 540 sites, 18 cabins, 18 cottages
Amenities: 5 playgrounds, 3 outdoor pools, 1 indoor pool, splash playground, mini-golf, 3 waterslides, free Wi-Fi, golf cart reservations
Reservations: January through October
Office hours: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.