STURGEON BAY , Wis. — It’s only been a few weeks since the height of the summer tourist season wound down in Sturgeon Bay.
Kate Le Roy, owner of Barn Door Quilts, said it’s been a pretty good year so far.
“It was busy with folks coming in from all over the country and all over the world,” she said. “I had visitors from the UK. I had some visitors from Australia. It was a very busy summer. I’d say overall it was a good summer for both the shop and downtown Sturgeon Bay.”The colors in Door County and around northeastern Wisconsin are changing. Some areas have pockets of brilliant yellows and oranges while other areas are still predominately green.
Le Roy and other business owners in Door County will see foot traffic pick up in the coming weeks as people head to the peninsula to check out fall colors.
“Weekends get busier and busier as we get more into October,” she said. “Plus, with all of the fall activities that are happening with the different harvest fests and Sister Bay Harvest Fest, it just makes the county full.”
Tourism was a $23.7 billion industry in Wisconsin last year. That’s up 13% from 2021, according to state data.
Cameryn Ehlers-Kwaterski of Destination Sturgeon Bay said she’s seen things change around fall tourism in the city.
“Traditionally, when I grew up in Sturgeon Bay, the season really stretched from about Memorial Day to Labor Day; however, what we’ve really seen is that our season in Sturgeon Bay has really extended,” she said. “The fall season — September into the end of October — it really has generated more traffic and picked up quite a bit. It’s not only people trading to see the fall colors, but maybe folks who are just coming to see Door County and Sturgeon Bay at a different time of the season.”
Ehlers-Kwaterski said autumn visitors play a big part in the county’s $582 million impact from tourism.
“It’s kind of hard to quantify the exact percentage, but I would say it’s probably close to about that 30%,” Ehlers-Kwaterski said.
Le Roy said she’s looking forward to the fall for a number of reasons.
“I love the fall, because for me, it’s time to get ready to do those fall [and] winter projects,” she said. “It’s kind of that preparation for the long winter, which I get excited about because that means I get to work on all sorts of projects.”