By Dave Gragg
The combination of a three-day weekend and the drought that has dried up many lakes in New Mexico brought more people to Ute Lake over the Fourth of July holiday than last year, although there weren’t as many people as planners had expected.
The 100-plus-degree temperatures may have kept some people from taking advantage of the free barbecue in Logan this weekend, said Ute Lake/Logan Chamber of Commerce Director Sharon Reid.
The Parks Service told the chamber to expect about 5,000 people, Reid said. Chamber estimates put the actual number at about 2,000.
“We had a new crowd coming in that didn’t know what was going on,” she said. “A lot of people wandered up from the campgrounds and wanted to know how much the barbecue cost.”
Some of those people came up to see why the crowd had gathered, while others heard the music once the entertainment began.
Reid said there were 20 briskets left over, which the chamber sold to visitors.
Gary Lower of Prewitt — son of village councilwoman Rosemarie Lower — won the raffle grand prize and chose to take the $10,000 cash.
Other options included a motorcycle, trucks, a jet ski or property on the lake.
According to Ute Lake State Park administrator Tara Carter, there were about 48,000 visitors to the lake over the weekend.
Despite the high numbers of people, Carter said the weekend was quiet.
“The weekend was great,” she said. “I think even the park staff had a lot of fun.”