With temperatures rising and seasonal visitors making their way back to the North Woods, the unofficial kickoff to the summer tourist season begins next week with the Memorial holiday.

The extended weekend will offer services being held to honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for freedom.

This transition between seasons usually brings an influx of new and old visitors to the area to experience the many outdoor recreation activities the region has to offer. However, inflation will still be a topic of discussion throughout the summer, but gas prices are down nearly a dollar from where they were last year heading into the busy season.

Consumer costs rose across the board in 2022, and many guests in the North Woods aimed to save money where they could while still experiencing a fun summer vacation. Area business owners highlighted that many visitors frequented restaurants less and aimed to have more family-oriented fun at their lodging facilities due to the increased costs of groceries, gas, and staffing shortages.

However, according to area chamber of commerce officials, the outlook for the 2023 tourism season is pointing toward it as being as good or better than last year.

With restaurants opening their doors, boats hitting the water, golf courses booking tee times, and most ATV/UTV trails open throughout the area, there is no shortage of summer activities for guests to participate in.

Kim Emerson, executive director of the Eagle River Chamber of Commerce, said there is something on the summer events list for everyone and the chamber is excited to welcome everyone back to the area. Many of these events are family oriented and provide attractions for participants of all ages.

“We believe it’s going to be a busy year as we are already seeing traffic pick up,” said Emerson. “Many of our member businesses are telling us that their advanced bookings and reservations are where they were last year at this time.”

Emerson also noted that Eagle River’s summer event information is listed on the chamber website at eagleriver.org.

Lodging facilities in the St. Germain area are also seeing bookings getting locked down for the summer, with many already full for the season. Chamber of Commerce President Phyllis O’Brien noted that with gas prices looking like they are going to spike again, the North Woods is the perfect vacation getaway.

O’Brien noted that on Mondays from Memorial Day to Labor Day, the flea market will be back in St. Germain at the town park. She added that on June 12, the town’s annual Walk in the Woods event will take place behind the chamber building.

A craft fair will run simultaneously from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and the St. Germain Lions Club will be cooking up brats and burgers for hungry attendees. More information on summer events being hosted in St. Germain this year can be found at st-germain.com.

Over in Three Lakes, shops that closed down for part of the winter will open again for the summer season. Chamber Interim Executive Director Jacqui Sharpe noted that a local business boom usually takes place right around now and the area is ready to roll into the busy season.

“We are looking forward to welcoming back seasonal residents and vacationers to Three Lakes for the summer,” said Sharpe. “A lot of people are already back and, with more on the way, transitioning from the winter shoulder season should be exciting for everyone in the North Woods.”

Information on additional events taking place in Three Lakes can be found at threelakes.com.

Changes are making their way to the area with some businesses changing hands and others closing their doors for good, but chamber officials highlighted that the traditional feel of a small town atmosphere fills the North Woods with many amenities not found in bigger cities and metropolitan areas.

Over the course of the last 100 years, this neck of the woods has been a premium summer destination for seasonal visitors from around the world. Emerson added that the Eagle River Chain of Lakes serves as one of the best places to get out on the water for fishing and outdoor recreation activities.

The tranquil forests that surround the North Woods provide space for visitors to see wildlife they normally don’t get the chance to observe.

Craft shows, street dances, fishing tournaments, and waterski shows are just a few of the many spectacles visitors will be able to be a part of this year.

Weekend events

Memorial weekend in the North Woods kicks off with several community events for locals and visitors to take part in.

The Border Troubadours theater group will perform two plays Thursday, May 25, starting at 7 p.m. at Ely Memorial Church in Land O’ Lakes. Original plays by area author Cindy Pesek, “A Dog’s Life: Shelter Secrets” and “College Donations: A Life of Their Own,” will take the stage in back-to-back performances. For more information, email [email protected].

Folk guitarist and singer-songwriter Mark Dvorak will perform Friday, May 26, at 7 p.m., at The Warehouse Arts Center’s Inspiration Bar in Eagle River. The event is free to the public, but registration is required. To register or for more information, visit eagleriverart.com.

Sayner-Star Lake area will hold its city-wide Community Rummage Sale event Saturday, May 27. Sales will open at 8 a.m. and close at 3 p.m. Several items will be available for sale at local businesses and residents homes. For more information, visit sayner-starlake.org.

The Eagle River Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center will host its eighth annual Arts and Crafts Show in the downtown area. Attendees will have the opportunity to choose a variety of handmade and creative items for sale by artists and vendors. The show will be May 28 and will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, visit eagleriver.org.

See related event stories in section B.