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A good summer season

Tourists pack City Beach along Little Detroit Lake on July 4 this year. The lakes area kept drawing tourists despite cold temperatures during the early part of the season and the recession keeping some from travelling to their favorite destinations. (Brian Basham/DL Newspapers)

The cold weather didn't seem to dampen tourism in the lakes area - at least that's what local business owners are saying.

In addition to cooler temperatures, the recession played a positive role for tourism in the region.

American Legion Campground owner Neil Erickson said people are staying closer to home instead of going to distant locations.

"Some of them didn't travel as far," Erickson said. "They went camping instead."

Motels along the beach experienced a jolt as well. Vern Van Ornum, manager of Viking Resort on Little Detroit Lake, said the cold didn't affect the vacancy rate in a negative way.

"I noticed more Canadian visitors," he said.

The exchange rate between the U.S. and Canadian dollars are helping matters. One Canadian dollar was worth about 93 cents on Friday. In March, the exchange rate was one Canadian dollar to 73 U.S. cents.

Zorbaz also saw an increase in Canadian visitors. Operating partner Tate Jansen said that a couple of groups from Canada stopped into Zorbaz just last week.

Overall, the cold weather didn't seem to lead to a downturn in overall business. Jansen said he didn't see as many out-of-state visitors, but those from the Minneapolis area made up for it.

"We heard that people wouldn't travel as far," Jansen said.

He said instead of people from the metro area traveling to national parks, they came to out-state areas like Detroit Lakes instead.

Dar Trieglaff, co-owner of Off the Rack boutique on South Washington Avenue in Detroit Lakes, said he saw a strong summer of sales compared to last year.

With the cold temperatures, Trieglaff said it helped retailers - tourists went shopping since they wouldn't want to be at the lake if it was too cold.

Trieglaff said the lower gas prices seem to have led more people to the lakes area.

"Last year was not so good because the price of gas was $4," she said.

Summer festivals also helped draw in the crowds.

WE Fest and the 10,000 Lakes Festival held at Soo Pass Ranch south of Detroit Lakes drew in tens of thousands to the area as they do every year, with a mix of businesses feeling the impact.

Restaurants, hotels and retailers saw a glut over the two stretches when the festivals were held. WE Fest drew nearly 45,000 people, while the 10,000 Lakes Festival's attendance was close to 17,000 people, just missing an all-time record.

The tourist season doesn't take a break, though, with several events designed to draw tourists soon. with fall beginning in less than 10 days.