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‘Last hurrah’ of summer
Plans call for chillin' and grillin'
Labor Day Lake 4 es
Chuck Hudson of Dahlonega chops firewood for a campfire Wednesday at Bald Ridge Campgrounds. Large crowds are expected to visit Lake Lanier this weekend, one of the biggest of the year. - photo by Emily Saunders
It’s been a crowded summer on Lake Lanier, said Darrell Stone, but nothing will top the rush expected this weekend.

Stone, a spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers, said Labor Day weekend, the last holiday of summer, is also the busiest.

“This is people’s last hurrah to use the lake before finally getting the kids back in school and all set up,” he said. “It starts picking up around Friday ... but our heaviest crowds are typically Sunday.”

In addition to managing boat ramps, the corps operates eight campgrounds near the lake, including Bald Ridge. But anyone thinking about camping over the holiday is out of luck, Maurice Beardslee said.

“The campground is completely filled up for the holiday,” he said. “We have 82 sites and they’re all completely filled. They’ve been filled up for almost two months.”

Beardslee, who checks campers in and out of the facility, said the bulk of the visitors are from north Georgia.

The corps’ campgrounds are so popular, he said, because “90 percent of our sites are right on the lake.”

“So everybody can get to the lake and they can put in their boats and do all sorts of water stuff, as well as camping and cookouts,” he said.

For cookouts, Publix offers just about everything but a gas grill. The supermarket is running sales on items ranging from sun block and charcoal to corn and ribs, said spokeswoman Brenda Reid.

“A lot of people take this opportunity, because we have a long weekend, to grill out at some point,” she said. “We wanted to make sure we had the products in the store that they want and at the price that they want.

“But in the Atlanta [area], we’ll be grilling almost up until Thanksgiving.”

Football season kicks off this weekend, so products for tailgating also will be big, Reid said.

Wings, salsa, chips, beer — “we’ve got a lot of items you can just pick up and go,” she said.

Brent Danneman is hoping people will spend their Labor Day at the Port Royale Marina.

“The lake has been used very strongly this summer versus a year ago because, if nothing else, water levels and fuel prices,” said Danneman, the marina’s general manager. “Our inventory levels are the lowest they’ve been almost in the history of us being in business.”

Rain could be the only thing to stop the crowds, but so far, forecasts are predicting nice weather, he said.

“We use, as a barometer, our pre-rentals,” Danneman said. “Advanced reservations are really good, so ... we expect extremely good crowds for the last big bang of the year.”