Reflecting on Jackson County's summer tourism

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JACKSON COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - As the fall season gets underway, Jackson County officials are reflecting on how effective tourism efforts were this summer.

The Concert in the Park series at Citizens Lodge was a hit with adults.

"We had a really good year," Jackson County Parks and Recreation Director Rett Daniels said. "Last year was kinda a struggle. We had good bands this year, good crowds. We averaged probably close to 200 people every Thursday night, which was excellent."

Campgrounds have been busy and guided tours have become more popular.

Many families held family reunions at various parks throughout the county.

A new visitors guide also helped bring more people to the area.

The new splash pad area and pavilion at Madison Street Park in Marianna stayed busy all summer long.

"It stays rented usually twice a day every weekend starting in May through this month actually," Main Street Marianna Director Charlotte Brunner said.

Independence Day brought many people to downtown Marianna. In fact, the parking lot was almost completely full that night for the fireworks.

"It was probably, I'd say 5,000 to 7,000 people in the downtown area," Brunner said. "We actually did it on July 3rd instead of July 4th and then that gave people the opportunity to have the day, Fourth of July, off and kinda do their own thing."

Blue Springs Park was also a big hit on holidays.

"Fourth of July, Memorial Day, the kickoff weekend's pretty good," Daniels said. "Overall, we had about 20,000 visitors throughout the entire season. Obviously, as school goes back in that kind of drops off on the weekends."

When school started back, the summer bustle slowed down.

However, when Hurricane Irma hit recently, Jackson County became a refuge for many evacuees.

Tourism Development Council officials said every hotel was booked, while restaurants and stores saw many new customers.

Officials said this summer season was successful, despite a few rainy days. They said they're hoping to see those trends continue when the fall events kick off next week.

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