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Mary Arlington

South Dakota campground owners will gather for a new event in early October, and all owners are invited regardless of membership status with the South Dakota Campground Owners Association (SDCOA), according to Executive Director Mary Arlington.

The association is hosting the “Autumn Gathering” as an opportunity for all park owners to share about the summer camping season.

Officials at SDCOA will use this to gain a sense of new industry or state trends, assist in addressing issues, create the most current reports for upcoming meetings in the tourism and outdoor hospitality industries, prepare relevant content for their spring conference, and prepare for the upcoming legislative session.

“If we have sufficient participation, this planned annual event will become a very powerful tool for the industry,” said Arlington. “We can’t operate in a vacuum. We need to hear from the front line and we hope they will share about their highs and lows of 2019.”

Arlington explains that the plan began forming when Bruce Aljets, owner of Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resort of Sioux Falls, suggested we host two meetings a year with the main all-day conference being central for everyone and the two-hour autumn meeting being split, one in Sioux Falls and one in Rapid City.

“He then offered his event hall as the Sioux Falls location,” explained Arlington. “When he showed it to me, I knew it was ideal for our meeting. This is a casual gathering, without presentations and industry suppliers. The space was perfect.”

Arlington, a former RV park owner, knows the value of industry participation. As she stated in her latest blog post, “Without a doubt, my involvement in my industries significantly improved my business.”

She also feels a park owner has far more than a job, they run a business. For their business’ viability, value and relevance, now and in the future, the business owner should help their industry be aware of current affairs they’re facing.

The Sioux Falls event is set for Oct. 1, at 1:30 p.m. CDT, and the Rapid City event will be held on Oct. 3, at 10 a.m. MDT.