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Local couple purchases Snowstar ski park, saves it from closing
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Local couple purchases Snowstar ski park, saves it from closing

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Jennifer and Doug Harper, a local couple from Illinois City, purchased the Snowstar Extreme Sports park Tuesday.

The couple became involved with Snowstar during the 2020-21 season, when they managed the ski park.

“It was going to close last year, so we stepped in,” Doug said.

“The restaurants, the gas stations and stuff, they notice a huge increase in business when [Snowstar] is busy,” he continued, emphasizing that they didn’t want the community to lose the ski park as an asset.

That season the couple made a management agreement with the option to purchase, erring on the cautious side in case COVID-19 ended up shutting down Snowstar’s outdoor activities.

Managing the ski park during the pandemic was “challenging,” according to Jennifer, who said a combination of having to uphold COVID-19 guidelines while also dealing with an influx of people wanting to get out of the house was hard to figure out.

“We had record numbers and we had restrictions that we had to comply with,” Jennifer said.

Regardless, the Harpers' season as managers was successful, and they decided to purchase the ski park.

They are now working on reviving old activities and bringing in new ones in order to make Snowstar a destination year round.

Paintball, provided by local business Action Valley Paintball, will continue to operate at Snowstar, and the Harpers also decided to revive the park’s zip lines.

“We just got [them] re-certified and ready to roll,” Jennifer said.

They are also in the process of installing an 18-hole disc golf course, one that Doug said the installer claims will be “one of the hardest courses in the Midwest” because of Snowstar’s rolling hills and trees. They plan to work with local business owners to bring disc golf tournaments to the course.

Jennifer and Doug are passionate about getting supplies for their new attractions from local businesses and partnering with business owners in the area on Snowstar’s new forays.

“We are firm believers in sharing our success with other businesses in the community and trying to work together," Jennifer said. "As small business owners ourselves it’s important for us to work together."

In addition to the new attractions, the couple is also working to host more events at the ski park’s roughly 79-acre location.

“We were able to work with the Rock Island County Zoning, and we’re going to be able to have more outdoor activities now because of that,” Jennifer said.

A couple of events she mentioned as possibilities for the future were an Oktoberfest celebration, a Fourth of July party, receptions, corporate events and weddings.

“It’s just going to be nice to have more of an option to utilize this facility year round," Jennifer said, "not just those four short months that we get in the winter."

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