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Holiday weekend venues boom

Plenty of people plan to squeeze the last drops from summer this Labor Day weekend.

Hotels and campgrounds expect booming business. Law enforcement agencies are gearing up to keep travelers safe on busy highways. And the weather forecast calls for sun, at least in our neck of the woods.

Julie Petretto, executive vice president at Medford's Visitors and Convention Bureau, said people stopping at the visitors' information center late this week reported that they planned to shop, attend Britt Festival concerts, go to wine tastings, and explore the outdoors with river rafting trips and visits to Crater Lake.

Most people have taken their main summer vacation, so this weekend is a mini-getaway, she said.

Most Medford visitors come from within a roughly 500-mile radius, with plenty from Northern California and the Oregon coast, Petretto said.

— The visitors bureau asks people if gas prices have influenced their travel plans, and most say no, Petretto said. Nationwide, travelers weren't discouraged by average gas prices of &

36;1.87 a gallon for regular ' up 15 cents from Labor Day last year, AAA reported.

In Oregon, the average gas price Friday was &

36;2.03 a gallon for regular, the auto association reported. The average price in the Medford-Ashland area was &

36;2.08. Washington's average was &

36;2, while California's average was &

36;2.12.

People are bummed that they have to pay that much, but it doesn't stop them, Petretto said.

After conducting a telephone survey about Labor Day plans, AAA estimates that 34.1 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles from home over the holiday weekend. Last year 33.4 million people hit the road for the weekend, the automobile association reported.

Eighty-four percent will drive, 11 percent will fly and 5 percent will travel by train, bus or other means, the survey said.

At Lake of the Woods Resort, every cabin is booked, RV sites are full and a celebration with live music and a barbecue is planned from 4 to 8 p.m. today, manager Barb Gregory said. Howard Prairie Resort doesn't take reservations, but manager Jim Johnston anticipates a steady stream of campers and good fishing.

It ought to be a great weekend for recreating, he said.

In town, the Red Lion was booked solid with football players, in town for North Medford's season opener Friday night, and other travelers. At the Rogue Regency, director of sales Craig Cockrell expected a typical summer weekend with lots of wedding parties taking advantage of great weather now that the heat of summer is fading.

The National Weather Service forecast calls for clear, sunny weather with highs in the 80s and low 90s through the weekend.

Oregon State Police will put detectives, fish and wildlife officers and supervisors on the road through Monday, doubling the number of officers on patrol.

On Monday, the Rogue Valley Mall and department and grocery stores will be open, although pharmacies will be closed. Federal, state, county and city offices will be closed, and no mail will be delivered. Banks and libraries also are closed.

Reach reporter Anita Burke at 776-4485, or e-mail