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Balmy N.H. Weather Boosts Columbus Day Camping

October 11, 2011 by   - () Leave a Comment

Columbus Day Weekend’s record warmth brought record crowds to New Hampshire, and those in the tourism business said their numbers were also record-breaking.

Tourism officials had predicted there would be more than 610,000 weekend visitors, providing a good chunk of revenue for the state’s $1 billion fall tourism industry, Manchester’s The Union Leader reported.

But the Indian summer temperatures over the three days may have brought even more people here to relax and take in the foliage, said business owners.

Campgrounds were busy for their final weekend of the season, including the Moose Hillock Campground in Warren in the foothills of the White Mountains.

Lisa Ames estimated three-quarters of the 280 sites were occupied this past weekend with visitors enjoying local apple picking, fishing, hiking “and just enjoying the quiet,” Ames said.

The campground, like most in the state, are now closed for the winter.

“We gain each year in the amount of people here for this weekend,” Ames said, noting forecasts earlier last week showing temperatures in the 70s and 80s may have also improved the attendance.

At Carter Hill Orchards in Concord, owner Rob Larocque called it “the busiest weekend we’ve ever had.”

“You get four good days on the No. 1 weekend for pick-your-own and you can’t have it better. I think most of the farms are very happy with the way the season is going,” Larocque said Monday (Oct. 10).

In the Mount Washington Valley, Marti Mayne, spokesman for the area’s chamber of commerce, said businesses were reporting a “fabulous” long weekend.

“Going into the weekend we were expecting near sold-out occupancy for lodging properties. With the glorious weather combining with peak colors in the Northern parts of the Valley … no one was disappointed,” Mayne said Monday.

She noted color in the southern reaches of Mount Washington Valley is still turning, “which will lead to an extended leaf-peeping season for us.”

Lakes Region visitors were taking last boat rides of the season and closing up camps, while more than 30,000 attended the Sandwich Fair over the three-day period. Officials there said they would likely exceed all-time attendance records for the 101st fair if Sunday’s weather held on Monday.

At Waterville Valley, there were throngs of visitors attending outdoor events and hiking in and around Mount Osceola area, which was showing strong color.

Jayme H. Simoes, who handles marketing for Waterville Valley’s lodging and amenities, said the forecast for occupancy for the Columbus Day Weekend was up 5% from last year and a new record was set for Labor Day when business was up 12% over the summer.

“Town Square was packed, all weekend,” he said.

Tai Freligh, communications manager for the New Hampshire Division of Travel and Tourism Development said he would have a better idea just how good the long weekend was on today when he begins to collect the data.

A business forecast done by the Institute for New Hampshire Studies at Plymouth State indicated the state would see a 1% increase this year from last, and sales related to tourism this fall will be in the area of $1 billion.

Compared with other seasons, autumn has the largest percentage of visitors from outside of New England.

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