Memorial Day may be considered the official start of summer, but area businesses that make their living off of summer river traffic along Current River say things are getting off to an early start this year.
“We’ve already begun our floating season with rafting, kayaking, banana boating and canoeing,” said Della Bedell of Van Buren’s The Landing. She added that the Blue Heron, a favorite restaurant for all of the region, will soon be open nightly, beginning in June.
“We’re going to really utilize our new outdoor and indoor dining areas this year along the riverfront. We’ve got a great view, and this year we plan to offer musical entertainment every Saturday night on the deck,” added Bedell. “It’s going to be a great summer!”
The Landing is one of the most unique businesses in Southeast Missouri because it not only offers the beautiful Current River to its clients, but also fine dining and a variety of lodging options.
“We’ve got 56 riverfront units, including suites, and cottages that can accommodate up to 8,” said Bedell. “So we’ve got accommodations for all kinds of groups – couples, families, and large groups.” She added that each of the riverfront rooms includes a relaxing balcony for enjoying the view of Current River, and all the summer time fun.
The Inez Cottage and the Brooks Cottage are just a couple of the romantic cottages that make any trip to Van Buren special.
And, then there is The River Centre, which was built in 2010 and offers 7,500 square feet of space perfect for any event. It features hand-scraped hardwood flooring, an 11-foot handcrafted stone fireplace, and murals inspired by the famous Ozarkian artist Thomas Hart Benton.
The space is perfect for occasions ranging from weddings and receptions to large group meetings and family reunions, with a state-of-the-art light and sound system.
“We can handle groups of up to 300 people,” explained Bedell.
The Landing is used year round, but summer is it’s time to shine.
“We have a lot of people who come back every year. For many families and groups, it’s a summer time tradition,” said Bedell.
At Doniphan, KC’s on the Current is also expecting a great summer.
“There are a lot of things to bring people to Doniphan this summer,” noted Cindy Moore of KC’s on the Current. “Everyone is very excited about the concert May 23rd with Billy Yates. We expect a lot of people for that event to be in town, and to want to float.”
Billy Yates is a well-known Nashville singer and song-writer who grew up in Doniphan, and graduated from Doniphan High School. Last summer while playing a concert in his hometown, he announced sponsorship of a “Hearts of the Arts” scholarship program, which will help talented Doniphan youth begin their education and careers in the arts.
This year’s concert will feature Yates, and friends Buddy Jewell and Jimmy Fortune. The concert will be May 23, 7 p.m. at the Doniphan High School Gym.
Yates has released eight studio albums and has charted several singles on the Billboard country charts, including “Flowers” in 1997, and George Jones’ hits, “I Don’t Need Your Rockin” Chair” and “Choices”. Featured as special guest will be Jalen Andrews, who is this year’s winner of the Doniphan High School’s Hearts of the Arts Talent Competition.
Moore thinks the concert will give a great beginning to the summer season in Doniphan.
“We’ve already opened the RV park, and we’re already about full there. We’re already seeing some weekend river traffic,” said Moore. “Beginning May 25, we will be open daily.”
Though the spring has been a rather rainy one, Moore says it has not really caused any problems so far this year.
“We had a great season last year,” said Moore. “I really expect a great season this year. The weather has actually been perfect so far for camping. We’re just all ready to get the season underway and have lots of fun helping other people have lots of fun.”