Analysts predict busy spring

MARIETTA – Spring weather is encouraging people to go outside and local businesses and attractions in the warm weather industry are ready to welcome the season.

Financial analysts at BMO Capital Markets predict the economy will see a 3 percent growth from April to June as a result of the warmer weather.

From local farms to museums and restaurants that open their doors and expect fresh traffic for spring, there is no shortage of ways to get out and celebrate the end of a long winter.

The Castle in Marietta began its 21st season Thursday, and though the museum is open year-round, the spring re-opening means blossoming grounds and increased traffic.

“We’re hoping the winter is over, as we have started to get the grounds ready for spring,” said Scott Britton, director of The Castle. “We’ve already got spring beauties coming up on the side yards that people really enjoy seeing.”

The Castle also is welcoming in new activities, like the New York City “Hot Jazz” concert.

“Also new is that we will be offering weddings at The Castle, and we hope to see that really open up this spring and summer,” Britton said.

The Marietta Adventure Co. also is ready to cater to outdoor enthusiasts and the company is projecting times for the kayaking and biking business to start back up about mid-April, depending on the weather and river levels.

“This time of the year we’re dead up until about a couple weeks ago, but now people are getting in and getting their bikes serviced,” said service manager Lincoln Smith. “People tuck away and hibernate for the winter and then we start to pick up when people see our vans driving around and know they can start to kayak again.”

The Marietta Harbor, operated by WASCO, will be open in May for its season, offering boat docks, picnic areas and a snack and ice cream stand.

“Since we overlook the river, we get a lot of families down here that come, bring a picnic and enjoy the river,” said Ron King, the coordinator of the harbor.

King said the River Trail and the boat traffic picks up business in the spring and summer and the crowds get larger when school is out.

“People will put in boats for the weekend, or people are traveling from Pittsburgh or going to Cincinnati, and a lot of people make it a point to stop here,” he said.

The harbor will also have bike rentals available, its retail shop with Marietta memorabilia and a fueling dock for boats on the river.

Catfish Paradise, located just south of Marietta off Ohio 7, recently brought in a new stock of 1,000 pounds of catfish to its pay lake, and now that the weather has warmed up and April is here, the fishermen are coming out.

“Spring fever has set in, it just came a little late because of the weather,” said owner Beverly Morris. “It’s slower now because the water is still cold, but once the water stabilizes, the fish will start biting.”

Once the crowds get bigger, Morris said the lake will start its weekend shootout tournaments that run all day, with prizes going to those who catch the biggest catfish.

“It gets the heart pumping when you can catch a big one,” she said.

Several restaurants in Marietta see customers begin to roll in that are anxious to enjoy the outdoors while eating.

“As soon as the weather breaks, we try to get tables out there because there’s always at least one guest that wants to sit outside, so we try to accommodate,” said Kim Hearing, co-owner of The Levee House. “Even if it’s windy, people are willing to hold down their food so they can sit outside and enjoy the view.”

The Buckley House on Front Street offers a beautiful outdoor seating area in its backyard gardens.

Executive chef Emad Al-Masri and managers welcome the outdoor dining around Mother’s Day, and said that though there is no set date for outdoor dining, they try to landscape and clean up the area so they are ready for spring in case weather warms up early.

At the retail end, L.E. Huck & Sons Farm Market and Country Store opened up for spring Thursday, now offering Virginia Ham, Swiss Cheese and a new delivery of cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and brussel sprouts.

“Now that we’ve opened back up, people have been hungry for our sandwiches, and they come rushing in,” said owner Mike Huck. “And we’ve got the pansies and early spring vegetable plants ready so people can start gardening.”

The Jug in Newport re-opened for the season March 17, and will be open for the warm weather all week long.

Owner Sharon West said business has been picking up, and expects that once school is out, crowds will get even bigger.

With no shortage of ice cream, Kreamy Kreations on Greene Street, which is sponsored by the Marietta Touchdown Club, plans to open at the beginning of May.

“This year we’ll be featuring all kinds of gourmet hot dogs, and like usual we’ll have music on the levee, with a whole number of bands that have been signing up,” said manager Liz Ford. “It’s a great opportunity for football players to get work and socialization experience, and all our proceeds go toward the middle and high school football teams.”

The stand is a big fundraiser for the football programs booster club, and this year Kreamy Kreations will be operating out of a brand new trailer.