WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Labor Day weekend marks the last holiday of summer. Many flock to state parks for one last celebration, but the crowds are not as big as in previous years. 

Traffic during Labor Day weekend is historically slower than other holidays, and the same is true this year, especially with rising inflation costs. During the pandemic’s peak, Cheney State Park Manager Shayne Koppes said 60,000 people spent time at Cheney Lake during one holiday weekend. 

“People have kind of got back to a little bit more of their normal lifestyle, and so, therefore, they’re not camping as much as what they were a couple years ago,” Koppes said. “One thing that COVID was good for was it kind of got people out into the outdoors, and so, therefore, we have seen an uptick over the past couple years of more campers.”

Typically, he expects anywhere from 30,000 to 40,000 visitors on Labor Day weekend.  

“This weekend is usually a little bit slower than the other two weekends since fall sports and everything have started, so we’ll probably be closer to that 30,000 range,” Koppes said. 

Even though traffic may slow a bit, O’Brien’s Marina Store owner Kevin O’Brien said the busy weekend is great for business. 

“Any holiday weekend is always good,” O’Brien said, “And you get an extra day because everybody’s off.” 

With rising inflation costs, he hopes people will still come out. He assures potential lake goers there’s still plenty to do on a budget. 

“People’s discretionary income disappears, so they don’t have a lot of extra money to spend,” O’Brien explained. “We offer a lot of products. We’re pretty well priced, and we’ve surprised a lot of people with how low we actually are.” 

O’Brien said he has had to dig in his own pocket to compensate for the rising costs. 

“It hurts our profit and our bottom line and doesn’t allow us to do everything we normally would like to do out here at the lake for all the people that come out,” O’Brien said. 

Koppes estimates that 100% of their utility campsites and cabins are full this weekend, but their primitive campsites are only 70% full. Those numbers are still an improvement, though. Before COVID, those sites would only be 30 to 40% full.