Summer season turns into shoulder season

Gray Hughes

The busy summer tourism season has changed into the shoulder season — the term used for the time between the slow of winter and the busy summer.

Many businesses are prepping for the season, with Jessica Jacobs, new owner of the Mangy Moose Saloon in Hill City, saying she plans to stay open year-round.

Jacobs took over ownership of the saloon from previous owner Tana Nichols on Sept. 1.

“The summer stayed really busy,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs said she became involved with the Mangy Moose because she likes the restaurant industry, saying she has been involved in it off and on since she was 18.

She said she likes the interaction with people — both employees and customers — as well as the environment she can create at a restaurant.

So far since taking over, she said things have been “excellent.”

“Things have been really busy,” she said.

She said she wants to remain open year-round (previously the Mangy Moose closed in the fall and reopened in the spring) because locals need a place to go.

She said she aims to make the Mangy Moose family friendly.

Her plan for the shoulder season — and moving into the winter — is to hold pool tournaments for both adults and families. She also wants to have open mic nights and live music. She said she also plans on running food specials as well as happy hour specials during the shoulder season and winter season.

She also said she plans on doing some redecorating.

Jacobs said she has been short staffed, which has been a challenge, but she is ready to tackle this business full-time.

“I want to build this up as a local establishment,” she said. “A place where people can gather and have fun. ...I want to make sure everyone has a good time.”

Rick Mills, director of the South Dakota State Railroad Museum in Hill City, said he was “pleased” with how the summer went and  was “pleasantly surprised” at how the summer progressed.

“Definitely some ups and downs, though,” he said. “We actually had a better August during the Rally than we normally do. I think, as the summer went on, it kind of started stabilizing as far as attendance.”

The success of the Rally, he said, was a surprise for the museum.

But where the museum is going to be for the full season is hard to say at this point, he added.

The loss of the bus tours hurt the museum, Mills said, but the museum did see increases in other areas.

“It’s going to be fairly close,” he said.

Looking toward the shoulder season, the museum will be putting on its annual Trees and Trains exhibit where businesses and people can decorate a tree at the museum and put it up for display for all to enjoy.

At Mount Rushmore National Memorial, August visitation numbers were up 16.3 percent compared to last year, said Maureen McGee-Ballinger, chief of interpretation and education for the memorial.

However, overall year to date is down 1.9 percent compared to 2019, which, she said, has been lower due to construction. These numbers, she added, are preliminary and will not be finalized until the end of the first quarter of the fiscal year in 2021.

“Visitors have been enjoying the memorial all summer,” McGee-Ballinger said. “The revitalized Avenue of Flags provides more open spaces to enjoy the view and take great photographs.”

There were several highlights this summer, she added, which includes the reopening of the Lincoln Borglum Visitor Center and the Avenue of Flags as well as South Dakota’s Mount Rushmore Fireworks Celebration. By a South Dakota Department of Tourism estimate, the fireworks brought the state an advertising value of over $22 million.

The fireworks, too, brought in $2 million in direct spending to South Dakota’s economy, according to an Associated Press report.

Information from the Association Press was used in this report.

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