Surprise! It’s summer again!

Every August I swear next summer will be different, but amnesia sets in about October or November and I forget what summer was actually like. Then on July 10 I remember what it was like last year and give myself a slap, promising to drink more water, work fewer hours, and take better care of myself so the inevitable fatigue doesn’t set in by the end of July.

Dave and I have been in busy summer businesses now for 11 years, first at Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park at the general store and gas bar, then adding the Daily Grind and The Star Café & Grill later. After we sold the businesses at the park, I thought life would be a bit more normal.

Maple Creek's Heritage Festival takes place July 17.

Maple Creek's Heritage Festival takes place July 17.

Ha! Not so! Thanks to all our wonderful customers we are still busy every summer. Without such a loyal and committed staff, we would not be able to cope, and we love them for it.

We have not only seen increased business at our places, but also in Maple Creek in particular and the Southwest in general. A couple of factors have contributed to the surge in Maple Creek’s popularity.

First, for some years town council has been committed to economic development, hiring an economic development team, participating in the Saskatchewan Main Street Program and instituting business and heritage incentive programs to attract and retain business.

The second and equally important contribution to Maple Creek’s increased tourism is the Cypress Hills Destination Area (CHDA). About five or six years ago a group of us from Southwest Saskatchewan got together with Tourism Saskatchewan staff to talk about forming a destination marketing organization for Southwest Saskatchewan. After many conversations and a lot of help from Tourism Saskatchewan, we are now in our third year of operation.

The CHDA worked with Fort Walsh to bring the RCMP Musical Ride to the fort July 21.

The CHDA worked with Fort Walsh to bring the RCMP Musical Ride to the fort July 21.

Through its website, participation in tradeshows and special events, print marketing including the much-in-demand Insider’s Guide, and the award-winning efforts of Gail Kesslar and Kristine Scheller, this beautiful corner of Saskatchewan is getting a lot of attention.

What does that mean for those of us living and doing business here? Our local economy is growing. There are more summer jobs for students, more businesses opening and commercial buildings selling, more festivals, more plans afoot for cultural development. Because of this economic development, more families are moving to town. Property values are holding strong. Optimism abounds.

So get out the ice water and B vitamins. I guess we can't look forward to a quiet summer for some years to come.