ST. MARYS — This weekend visitors to Grand Lake St. Marys State Park can help a local nonprofit group in its mission to providing new additions to the attraction that help keep tourists coming back.
The Grand Lake VIP Association will be hosting its first-ever vendors’ market on Saturday in the campgrounds. The event, which is scheduled to run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., will be staged along the main road of the campgrounds.
“The goal is to bring people into the park and schedule events that people can get interested in,” Grand Lake VIP Association member Ron Nagel told The Evening Leader. “The event is open to campers and to the public. That’s what we want to get out so we can get the public to support the vendors. It’s our first one, and we want to keep growing it larger and larger each year.”
Each year, the association — a group of volunteers who stay at the campgrounds — helps improve the site. In recent years, the group has installed a few tetherball courts and basketball goals as well as purchased playground equipment. The volunteers also help keep the campgrounds clean for visitors.
“With the lake issues, attendance has fallen,” Nagel said. “The more we can do to bring it up, the more it helps the park and the local businesses.”
The vendors’ market will feature 14-by-14 tables for people to show off their wares to the public. The event is open to the public, but food service vendors are disallowed from being vendors at the market.
“There will be arts and crafts,” Nagel said. “There is a local lady who is doing honey and she can come because it’s not a food you sit around and eat. There are some doing hair bows, purses and candles.”
Association member Doris Dawson said the group’s next long-term goal is building a multipurpose building to host indoor activities for campers.
“We have been doing all kinds of things trying to get the campers back interested in the park because of the past few years with the water,” Dawson said.
“The water is much, much better than it has been, and I have noticed more activity on the water this year compared to years past.”
All the money raised by the association goes back into the campgrounds. Dawson, of Piqua, has been coming to the state campgrounds for nine years and said she wants to see the facility back to where it was when she first started visiting the area.
“I am hoping to see what I saw when I first came here — a full campground,” Dawson said.
For more information on the vendors’ market or to participate in the event, call 419-394-3611 or Dawson at 954-812-6544.
The deadline for vendors to register is Thursday.