2009-08-20 / News

Family-owned Barefoot’s Resort Maintains Original Atmosphere 50 Years Later

By Jonathan Eppley

Summer vacationers gather around a barefoot sculpture made in the sand at Barefoot's Resort in Cedarville. The resort is celebrating its 50th year of operation this summer. Pictured are (from left) Taylor Poeppelman, Logan Hess, Ryan Poeppelman, Ross Pearson, Leah Dubler, Hailey Hess, Andrea Dubler, Audrey Pearson, Gianna Jakubowski, Max Jakubowski, and Gisella Jakubowski. Summer vacationers gather around a barefoot sculpture made in the sand at Barefoot's Resort in Cedarville. The resort is celebrating its 50th year of operation this summer. Pictured are (from left) Taylor Poeppelman, Logan Hess, Ryan Poeppelman, Ross Pearson, Leah Dubler, Hailey Hess, Andrea Dubler, Audrey Pearson, Gianna Jakubowski, Max Jakubowski, and Gisella Jakubowski. In 1953, Walt and Freda Barefoot of Ohio brought their small family to Cedarville on vacation. The family stayed at one of the many resorts on the Les Cheneaux Islands and enjoyed the area so much that they returned the following November to buy some land, ultimately purchasing 310 feet of wooded shorefront on Hill Island overlooking Moscoe Channel.

Over the next six summers, the family returned to the area for three weeks at a time, during Mr. Barefoot's vacation time from National Cash Register in Dayton, Ohio, to build five small cabins and a larger pole barn to open Barefoot's Resort in 1959. The resort has been family owned and operated ever since and is celebrating its 50th year of summer fun.

Vacationers enjoy the warm weather and water at Barefoot's Resort in Cedarville. The cabins at the family-owned resort were built in the 1950s. Vacationers enjoy the warm weather and water at Barefoot's Resort in Cedarville. The cabins at the family-owned resort were built in the 1950s. "I've been coming up here since I was about two or three years old," said Debbie Cleve land, daughter of Walt and Freda Barefoot. "Kids who came up here when I was seven years old, when we opened the resort, those kids who were my age, are now coming up here with their grandchildren."

She said many of the same families return to the resort every summer to enjoy the simple and quiet lifestyle of summer living. They spend their time playing in the water, riding on boats and personal watercraft, fishing, and sitting around the nightly beach bonfire telling stories.

"They're doing the very things we did as children," she said. "People come from all over, but when they come up here they all become family. To pass it on from generation to generation... It's just neat."

Mrs. Cleveland said the resort's first guests were her father's coworkers and their families, some of whom still return to the resort. The seasonal resort opens every summer in mid May and closes in late September. Mrs. Cleveland, who lives in Tip City, Ohio, always makes sure to spend a few weeks out of the summer at the resort.

Paul Jakubowski of Toledo has returned to the resort every summer for the last 30 years. He spends the majority of his summers at the resort in the campground area between the waterfront and the road. His grandchildren visited him there last week.

"The neat thing about this place is it's one big family," he said. "They always treat us real good."

Not much has changed at the five cabins since they were built in the 1950s. Chris Pearson of Cedarville, the resort's yeararound caretaker and grandson of Walt and Freda Barefoot, said the only major changes to the resort have been replacing of the cabin roofs and adding modern appliances.

The fact that little has changed over the last 50 years is part of the reason why so many families return every summer, he said. About 95% of the resort's guests are repeat visitors, he said, and the past two summers have been record seasons.

"When gas was $4.50 a gallon, people were coming here and not going up into Canada. They were staying closer to where they were from," he said. "It has worked to our advantage."

The family has watched other resorts come and go over the years, and attributes their resort's longevity to values instilled by their mother. She taught them the value of family and a hard day's work.

"Mom insisted on really clean cabins," said Ms. Cleveland's sister, Jan Pearson, who spends her summers at the resort. She is the oldest of the Barefoot children and Chris Pearson's mother. Along with the two sisters, their brother, Bill Barefoot, also holds an owner's stake in the resort.

It was their mother who kept the resort running every summer for years, until her death in 1989. The children described her as a hard-working woman with a real pioneering spirit.

The family has no plans to change anything at the resort beyond making repairs and up - dates as necessary. Mrs. Cleve land and Mrs. Pearson plan to pass on ownership and responsibility of the resort to their children and grandchildren some day.

"That's how we have it set up. After our parents died, we wanted to be sure it would stay in the family and go to the children," Mrs. Cleveland said. "To pass it on from generation to generation; there's some security in knowing that in a world where everything changes, some things don't change."

Return to top


Click here for digital edition
2009-08-20 digital edition