• Last modified 356 days ago (June 1, 2023)


County lake a favorite meeting place for families loving the outdoors

Staff writer

Arguably the county’s hottest recreation area is Marion County Park and Lake.

The Rains family and the Dutton family meet at the lake most Memorial Day weekends to camp together.

They took a break from camping together for a couple of years, but still met this Memorial Day weekend.

Friends for years, they camped together when the Rains family was raising children and now that the Duttons are raising children.

T.C. Rains likes the fact that the lake requires no reservations for camping.

“It’s first come, first serve,” he said.

The Rains family occasionally camps at Marion Reservoir, but likes the county lake more. The lake’s scenery and the good experiences he’s had with other campers are a plus, T.C. said.

The families like to play games and hang out with other campers, Eric Dutton said.

The families enjoy fishing, and Clarissa Dutton enjoys watching the birds.

She especially enjoys seeing a hatchling bald eagle at the lake this year and watching eagles swoop down to snatch away fish caught by other birds.

A pair of bald eagles has lived at the lake full-time for three years, park and lake director Isaac Hett said.

This is the first year the eagles have hatched young.

Herons are seen at the lake seasonally.

Pelicans often flock through in March and stay about a week at the lake.

The lake offers recreation besides camping and fishing.

Open year-round, the campground is busiest Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend.

A bait shop in the lake office sells items anglers might have forgotten to bring.

Walleye, saugeye, channel catfish, wiper, white bass, largemouth bass, spotted bass, bluegill, and crappie all attract anglers to the lake.

The lake has a heated fishing dock near the lake office.

Fishing permits are not required.

A disc golf tournament in conjunction with Marion’s Chingawassa festival will be new this year.

A fireworks show, sponsored by Friends of Marion County Lake, will be July 1. In addition to fireworks at nightfall, the event includes a car parade around the lake and a boat parade. The event ordinarily is held the Saturday before July 4 so not to compete with Peabody’s 4th of July festival.

The Friends group organizes Bluegrass at the Lake, a two-day music festival scheduled for Aug. 4 and 5. Featured bands will include Fast Food Junkies, Mountain Deer Revival, Grody Riggins, Jenna and Martin, 80 Proof Engine, Prospect, and The Sassanachs.

Also available will be food vendors, a corn hole tournament, vendors, and a silent auction.

Most years, the Friends group has a general fundraiser, but no date has been set this year.

The Friends group also organizes a chili-cookoff and car show scheduled for Oct. 7.

The lake also offers a disc golf course with maps, score cards, and disc rentals available at the lake office. Horseshoe rental, cable TV and wi-fi are available for $1.75 a night, boat storage for $20 a month, and boat slip reservations for $10 for 24 hours.

Charges for boat permits are based on engine horsepower.

Tent camping fees costs $7 per night for county residents or $8 a night for out-of-county residents.

Camping with electric and water hook-ups are $14 a night for county residents and $18 a night for out-of-county residents.

Golf carts and UTVs are prohibited without a permit from the lake office.

Boats are subject to mandatory inspection for zebra mussels.

Last modified June 1, 2023