Interstate signs increase traffic flow to Minooka ParkBy Emily Etheredge Published 3:19pm Wednesday, January 2, 2013
Traffic flow throughout Minooka Park in Jemison has increased in 2012 after signs were installed along Interstate 65 promoting the park.
According to Park Manager Gerald Arrington, 2012 was the biggest year for the park including an increase in revenue, number of guests coming into the park as well as more events held throughout the park.
“We had a wonderful year,” Arrington said. “A lot of people who were traveling along Interstate 65 noticed the signs and stopped off to see what the park was all about. Once they visited and realized they liked it they told their friends who would also come and stay, so word of mouth really helped us out.”
The Chilton County Commission agreed to pay the costs associated with installing four state-issued signs-two alongside the north-and southbound lanes and two on the Exit 219 ramps that were added to the blue “Attractions” signs along the interstate in January 2012.
The signs were officially installed on Sept. 20, 2012, after Arrington developed the logo with help from C&C Trophy in Clanton, with the park’s name and an RV symbol to entice travelers looking for a place to camp.
Arrington went through a three-year process to have the signs installed including requirements from the Alabama Department of Transportation that required the signs be located a certain distance from the interstate, a paved entrance, expanding hours of operation and a minimum of four recreational activities available to the public throughout the year.
“We saw a lot of travelers who were driving along the interstate and noticed our signs,” Arrington said. “They stopped off to stay for the night which also increased revenue for our county because they bought fuel and food while visiting. It was great because we had a lot of people who visited from other states as well as people from different areas of Alabama.”
The state charges the county an annual fee of $1,400 a year to maintain the four signs for Minooka along the interstate.
The park opened in March 2008 equipped with all terrain vehicles (ATV) and off-road motorcycle trails as well as an RV campground, picnic, fishing and walking trail areas.
Arrington said he plans to jumpstart 2013 with more events held at the park to boost interest from the community.
The first upcoming event will be Feb. 2 with the first hare scramble in conjunction with Southeast Cross Country Association (SECCA) who put on ATV races all over the state.
“There will be a series of races going on with point totals,” Arrington said. “There are a lot of people who follow that particular racing circuit so we feel like that will bring a lot of people who haven’t been to the park before.”
Arrington said if the event is a success he would like to see it become an annual or semi-annual event that would draw racers from many areas throughout the state.
Another event Arrington has planned is a mud run 5K on March 16, partnered with Cornerstone Fitness and Wellness Center.
Arrington said the track for the race has already been identified as well as what obstacles will be used throughout the race including both natural and man-made obstacles.
“Mud runs have become increasingly popular with a lot of people that enjoy participating in them,” Arrington said.
Arrington said the park typically sees a larger increase of visitors during the spring and fall months due to milder temperatures.
“Once the summer comes we sometimes see a drop off in visitors because a lot of people don’t like to be out when it is above 90 degrees,” Arrington said. “People also don’t like to visit when it is really cold but we had a full campground over Thanksgiving and we were near capacity for New Year’s.”
Arrington attributes an increase in traffic flow largely to the fact gas prices have stabilized a bit, allowing more people to be on the road vacationing.
“There was a time when gas prices were too high for people to consider being on the road,” Arrington said. “Now, they are staying about the same so more people are vacationing.”
Arrington also said Minooka Park has seen an increase in campers that travel in groups or camping clubs that bring large amounts of people to camp at one time.
“We have a lot of groups that come and will tell other campers they enjoyed camping here so the groups continue to expand with more people who want to come and see what we are all about,” Arrington said.
The RV campground is open seven days a week, 365 days a year and the park Wednesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to sunset.
Arrington said the hours of the park will change when daylight is extended in the spring.
Arrington said he hopes anyone interested in learning more about Minooka Park will stop by, visit his website at www.minookapark.org or, call (205) 312-1376.
“My phone number is listed on the entrance sign to the park so even a person is wanting to camp in the RV campground at a later hour of the night, they can call me and I will set them up with something,” Arrington said.