EL DORADO, Kan. (KSNW) — While we’re still a couple weeks away form the official start of fall, many took to El Dorado Lake to celebrate the unofficial end of summer this Labor Day weekend.

Management of the popular Shady Creek Marina says Sunday was so jam-packed, the parking lot was overflowing with trailers and boats just vying to get in. Even with gas prices on everyone’s radar nowadays, one long-term boater says the fun at the lake is always worth the trip.

“We started 30 years ago,” boater Ben Arensman said.

Each Labor Day weekend, Arensman and his family travel 140 miles from home to celebrate at El Dorado Lake.

“They did some trial skiing, and they did some tubing, and a big banana…towable banana, the kids rode on it,” Arensman said.

The environment is what also keeps staff members coming back year after year.

“The atmosphere—all the people here are nice,” dockhand Dylan Ray said.

Ray has worked at the marina for the past four years. He says this year’s Labor Day turnout was lower than expected, but turnout for the entire season saw a welcome change.

“After COVID, it was a little less, and then this year it’s kinda increased a little more,” Ray said.

Boaters also saw some relief at the gas pump. When the marina opened this spring, a gallon was $5.99. That number is now down to $4.99 per gallon.

“I think that’s pretty reasonable. Our diesel’s pushing five bucks everywhere for our trucks that we run, and it, to provide services on the water at that price is pretty reasonable,” Arensman said.

It’s fun in the sun that has boaters and marina staff making plans to come back next summer.

“If we add to the experience, it makes everything kind of a little more worth it,” Ray said.

“Meals and motels and whatever you do, it’s expensive, so gas isn’t too bad—don’t not go because of the fuel,” Arensman said.

The marina will remain open on weekends until Monday, October 10, when it closes for the winter. The marina will reopen next April, but if you’re a boater hoping for a reservation, be prepared for quite the wait. Management says the current wait list is two years for a spot.