KENDALLVILLE – Cabins will arrive at the Bixler Lake Park campgrounds later this year as Kendallville continues to see increased use of its camping facilities in recent years.

The Kendallville Parks Department plans to install cabins in the park’s campground to help attract new demographics to the park and build on the momentum and enthusiasm for camping that the city ​​saw.

Bixler Lake Campground has seen a steady increase in usage over the past few years. Annual campground revenue has grown from $60,320.68 in 2020 to $72,521.68 in 2021, an increase of more than 20%.

The park recorded less than $40,000 in camping revenue before 2017, so the year-over-year increase was both recent and impactful.

Dawn McGahen, director of the parks department, said much of the recent bump was due to the pandemic and people wanting safe accommodation.

“When COVID shut things down, people still wanted to go out and take a vacation,” she said. “The first year of the pandemic was a banner year for us and even last year we did a good job as well.”

Another thing she points to for the increased usage is their efforts to promote the campground and the park as a whole. She said the Parks Department has been promoting extensively on social media, on its website, and through word-of-mouth.

There are many people who would like to camp in the park all year round and people will also stay at the campsite when the various festivals are happening in the city.

The thriving recreational program at the Kendallville Outdoor Sports Complex, which hosts numerous youth sports tournaments throughout the warm months, has also helped.

“People also use the campground for baseball and softball tournaments that are in town,” she said. “It has a beautiful setting and we hope to continue to develop our campground.”

Lake Bixler is central to many different amenities in the area. It is home to several lakes, many festivals, sporting events, and different beaches along the various lakes in the region.

The park also has trails they can walk on and offers kayak rentals. She noted that the lake is clean for people to swim in and they test the water in the lake every week.

The park recently introduced a disc golf course to the park last year. She said the game will draw people to Bixler Lake all the way to Elkhart and Ohio.

She hopes the new cabins will arrive sometime this year, in time for spring and summer.

Mayor Suzanne Handshoe noted in her State of the City address Tuesday night that installing and operating some cabins at the campground is one of her goals for the city in 2022.

“They take about six weeks to build and hopefully they’ll arrive in about four to six weeks after that,” she said.

Staterooms will measure 14 by 20 feet and feature double beds plus bunk beds for the kids, mini fridge, ceiling fan, overhanging porch, set of chairs and table.

She said they had received calls from people in previous years asking if they had cabins and the park felt that some families did not want to invest in an RV and just wanted to be able to have fun while a weekend.

The Parks Department hopes to install a skate park in Kendallville which they say will help bring people to the campground, improve the electrical system for RVs and run water and utility lines. sewer through the campground. The park currently only has water lines.

These would be the latest upgrades after the city made Wi-Fi upgrades to the campground last year.

“New RVs have more amenities and we need more powerful electrical systems to handle them,” she said. “We also had the town’s IT guy set up internet at the campground so we could accept credit card payments.”