Andrea York is part owner and park manager of Venture River Water Park in Eddyville. This past Memorial Day weekend marked its 27th year of business.
The park was opened in 1994 by her parents. Now, York, her mother, and brother own it.
“Based on today, they don’t seem to be having any worries or concerns,” York said Monday. “We are very busy, more like a normal day here.”
Attendance seems to be the only thing returning to some kind of normal.
The park staff currently consists of 190 or so employees — regular staff composition is 200 to 250.
“And we don’t even have applications to call right now so, there’s definitely a shortage,” York said. “But everyone I’ve talked to is in the same boat.”
The lack of staff has caused York to work beyond her park manager role to fill other departmental duties and responsibilities.
York said 75% of the park’s employees are in high school or college — work begins as early as 15 years old at the park.
Relying heavily on social media outreach and a referral program, York said she hopes she can capture more engagement and fill several vacancies; she is hiring for every position.
On Saturday, temperatures dropped below 70 degrees, which caused the park to remain closed for the day. It reopened Sunday. York said it was the first time the park had to close in May due to weather.
In observance of Memorial Day, the park offered military personnel a discount on admission.
Last year, the park opened late in its 88-day season. After waiting three months, the park was finally able to open in July after pandemic guidelines eased.
As a result, they missed out on half of the park’s season business.
“We’re very blessed we made it through last year, and that we’re able to open this year,” York said.
Despite losing revenue last year, the park still offers professional internships for hospitality, management and business students, as well as young professionals.
York said she is planning to add another ride to the park, although ordering supplies and parts may be difficult during a time when availability and transportation and logistics systems are overwhelmed. York said she just has to wait until the end of the season to see how things go.
Starting June 5, the park is offering church groups a discount. Groups of 15 or more people receive discounted admission tickets and a shelter space with reservation.
Labor Day is the official end of the season. On the Sunday of Labor Day weekend, the park will host Rumble on the River, a free fireworks display event.